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Plans to save Menlo Castle take big step

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The long-awaited revamp of Menlo Castle on the banks of the River Corrib will take a giant step forward early next year thanks to the allocation of €25,000 towards the project in the Galway City Council Budget for 2014.

This funding will allow the City Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, to come up with a detailed conservation project for the historic castle, outhouses, and grounds, which, in turn, should result in substantial additional funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.

Conservation groups including Duchas na Gaillimhe and the Galway Civic Trust have come on board to offer the local authority full support to progress the ill-fated project, over 13 years after Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) were issued for the 17th century site.

A full oral hearing to allow the City Council purchase the castle and grounds from five shareholders took place at the Menlo Park Hotel back in July 2000 and, since then, there have been no moves to preserve the ruins.

An ambitious ‘Celtic Tiger’ plan, which would have seen Dublin-based businessman Noel Smyth develop the site in return for a top floor penthouse, was abandoned three years ago when Mr Smyth’s assets were seized by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA).

Confirmation that €25,000 has been allocated to the Menlo Castle revamp in the City Council Budget for 2014 – which is due to be adopted today – has been warmly welcomed by long-term campaigner and local resident Cllr Frank Fahy (FG).

Earlier this year, Cllr Fahy called for a full-scale inquiry to be held into the cost and delays surrounding the ill-fated project.

“This €25,000 has been ‘ring fenced’ to start the process of doing a conservation project for Menlo Castle,” Cllr Fahy said yesterday.

“It will allow the Heritage Officer to draw up a comprehensive conservation, which can be submitted to the Dept of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht. There is funding available for the revamp of listed buildings, once we have finalised a conservation plan.”

Cllr Fahy said the funding had been allocated for the monument, gate lodge, and castle – he hoped that work could proceed on the gate lodge in the short-term.

Cllr Fahy said he was delighted that Duchas na Gaillimhe have come on board to progress the work through a community employment scheme, while Galway Civic Trust have already played a key role in revamping two iconic city buildings, the Mutton Island lighthouse and the Fisheries Tower, in recent years.

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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