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CITY TRIBUNE

Planning objectors ‘must be clearly identifiable’

Enda Cunningham

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Planning delays: the Warwick Hotel after its demolition.

A Galway TD has accused the Minister for Housing and Planning of “washing his hands” of proposals to ensure anyone who lodges an appeal with An Bord Pleanála must be clearly identifiable.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív called for legislation to be introduced to guarantee that any person who appeals against a planning decision must be identifiable – in an effort to prevent anonymous or vexatious appeals.

He cited the example of a planning application on the site of the former Warwick Hotel in Salthill which was approved by Galway City Council in June 2018.

A person named Iura Matel, with an address in Dublin, appealed the decision and sought an oral hearing with An Bord Pleanála. When the hearing convened the following January, the appellant was not present and it had to be abandoned.

Legal counsel for the developers, David Browne, said they were concerned over the legitimacy of the appeal, as Mr Matel’s name had been spelled differently on three documents submitted to the Board; correspondence sent by registered post was returned on two occasions and the Register of Electors did not show a ‘hit’ on various permutations of the name at the address given.

Deputy Ó Cuív said he was disappointed that Minister Eoghan Murphy did not intend to make changes to the law.

In response to a Parliamentary Question from Deputy Ó Cuív, the Minister said: “Legislative provision already exists to ensure appeals to An Bord Pleanála can identify appellants and gives the Board the discretion to dismiss appeals.”

The Galway West Deputy said this week: “There have been cases where people made appeals against planning permission, both at local government level and at national level, that did not live at the address they gave.

“There was one particular case that was highlighted in Galway recently where a person who clearly did not live at an address, appealed against local planning permission, having objected to it at the local authority stage of the process.

“When the appeal went to Oral Hearing, the appellant did not turn up and the applicant had made strenuous efforts to verify that the appellant did not live at the address given.

“In his reply to my question, the Minister fudged the issue. He said that legislative provision already exists to ensure appeals to An Bord Pleanála can identify appellants and give the Board the discretion to dismiss appeals.

“It goes on to say that the appellants name is published by the Board on the weekly lists on their website and that he does not intend changing the law to tighten up the issue. The reality is in the case where the applicant, who has been appealed against by an anonymous appellant, should have had the case dismissed,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said the law needs to be strengthened and suggested that a PPS number or relevant tax number should be required from all appellants.

“Furthermore, I believe that if an address is given, that the Board should have the power to insist on proof of address being given, if they believe the person does not live at the address they have submitted in their appeal. I will continue to press this matter, despite the rejection by the Minister of the case that I made,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Footfall down by 80% in Galway city centre

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop Street on Ladies Day of the Galway Races

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Footfall in the city centre was down by about 80% during what would normally be a bumper three weeks in the city, with this year’s Arts Festival and Summer Racing Festival both falling foul of Covid-19 restrictions.

Data compiled by the Galway City Business Association (GCBA) – which is a measure of mobile phone users at various points in the city centre – shows that there were over half a million fewer movements recorded during Race Week this year, representing around a 77% decline on the same week in 2019.

While the figures are by no means a conclusive count of individuals in the city, they do provide a good guide as to how many people are traversing the main thoroughfares over an extended period.

During the second week of the Arts Festival in 2019, just short of 900,000 movements were recorded in what was the city’s single busiest seven days of the year.

However, with the absence of the Big Top and various other Arts Festival venues this year, just over 150,000 movements were recorded in the same week this year.

Well-known city businessman and GCBA member Anthony Ryan said that the situation was gradually improving, but it was obviously a very different Race Week this year.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council orders removal of new footbridge

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The installation of a footbridge over the Middle River at Newtownsmyth has led Galway City Council to warn the adjacent property owner to remove the structure, or face legal proceedings.

Property developer John Curley, who owns the commercial unit involved at Abhainn na mBradán, has received instruction from City Hall to have the bridge removed by today (Friday) in what the Galway City Tribune understands is being treated as a ‘extremely serious breach’ of planning regulations.

Mr Curley told this newspaper that the €25,000 bridge could not be removed this week as his architect was on holidays, and he was still considering what to do about the Council’s order.

Mr Curley said businessman Eric Furey had opened a new café in the building two weeks ago – the building also houses Born Clothing and Papa Rich restaurant.

The bridge had been installed to coincide with the opening of Roots Café and both Mr Curley and Mr Furey argued that it was crucial to the business’ survival that there was access from the busy canal walkway.

“We are going to fight this,” said Mr Curley, adding that it had been their intention to seek retention for the bridge, but that had been ruled out by city planners who refused to give permission to utilise public land on the far side of the canal.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said: “Immediately on becoming aware of the installation of this structure across the canal, Galway City Council Planning Department requested the immediate removal of the structure.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Anger over illegal parking of camper vans in Salthill

Enda Cunningham

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Camper vans illegally parked on Rockbarton Road this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has admitted that it is difficult to enforce bylaws banning the parking of caravans and camper vans on roads in Salthill.

It follows complaints from elected representatives and local residents again this Summer in relation to illegal dumping and ‘unsightly’ parking on the Promenade and alongside Leisureland.

Under the Council’s own Parking Control Bylaws 2009, parking of ‘temporary dwellings’ (which includes caravans, mobile homes, tents and any structure whether on wheels or not) is prohibited on the Prom; Quincentennial Drive (behind Toft Carpark); Rockbarton Road (adjacent to Leisureland) and on the Western Distributor Road. Council carparks are also off limits.

Local area councillor Donal Lyons said the problem seemed to be worse this year, which he believed is due to holidaying staycationers.

Councillor Peter Keane said that it is a ‘small few’ people that are giving caravaners a bad name.

“We welcome holidaymakers, but let them go into the caravan parks where proper services are provided, such as electricity and water.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said that the local authority’s experience was that it has proved difficult to enforce the parking ban over the years.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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