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CITY TRIBUNE

Progress on ‘Kingston’ recreation and sports facility

Stephen Corrigan

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The land at Kingston, adjacent to Knocknacarra National School, which is set to become a new sport and recreation facility.

An application for planning permission to proceed with long-planned sports and recreation facilities at the ‘Kingston lands’ in Knocknacarra will be made in the first half of 2020.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed that an engineer has been appointed with the specific responsibility of progressing the Kingston project and a number of other significant amenity projects in the city.

“We have an engineer in place working on these projects. We are also awaiting the appointment of a further engineer who will be dealing with the wider issue of Sports Capital Grants,” he said.

Councillors approved outline plans for the lands – an unoccupied green space adjacent to St John the Apostle National School and for an overhaul of the existing sports facility on Millars Lane – in June of last year.

Included was provision for a children’s playground; changing rooms/community centre; outdoor gym equipment; a pedestrian walkway; a two-way cycle path; and 75 parking spaces.

A hockey pitch will be developed at Millars lane as part of the plan.

A pitch that can be used for both GAA and rugby, and a multi-use games area were also included in what have been described as the early stages of what will finally come before the Council as a completed proposal.

The Council spokesperson said the recently-appointed engineer would be “getting into the nitty gritty” before a Part 8 was completed.

Local councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said that it was his hope the plans would come before the Council in the first quarter of next year, so that the applicable Sports Capital Grants could be sought without delay.

“There are two parts of the Kingston lands development – on of the pitches on Millars Lane. In the last City Development Plan, the objective was included that if the City Council developed pitches, they also have to develop changing room facilities.

“All that exists at the moment in Millars Lane are temporary changing room facilities,” said Cllr Lyons.

Cllr Lyons said the new appointment of an engineer to deal with the Kingston project – and the development of the ‘Swamp’ at Southpark – was welcome, and so too was the forthcoming appointment of someone to deal with Sports Capital Grants.

“We have got some money from the Sports Capital Fund for the all-weather pitch at Cappagh Park. The next part is floodlighting. There are also plans for Melody Park in Renmore – there are a number of different projects already in train,” he said.

When the Part 8 process commences, members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions and a plan will be finalised, explained the Knocknacarra-based councillor.

“The outline plan has been debated long and hard and when it goes forward for Part 8, the public will be able to make submissions before it comes back for adoption.

“The next stage then would be to find funding,” he said.

Throughout the initial process, there had been a number of concerns raised by residents in estates adjacent to the proposed park – particularly from White Oaks where a proposed access route between Millars Lane and Kingston lands requires a previously gated access route to the estate to remain open.

The opening of this area has given rise to security concerns and resulted in alleged incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, a resident of another estate, Gort Siar, said while they had no objection to the plan in principle, the initial plan to create green space for Knocknacarra and for the children in the national school had been lost, and the facility was now more about accommodating sports clubs than it was about benefitting local residents.

“We’re definitely not happy with the plans as they are and we’ve had a number of interactions with councillors over the past two years,” he said.

According to this resident, initial plans satisfied the needs of the school, where pupils were currently forced to play on tarmac due to the lack of green space.

“This has moved so far away from a community space designed and proposed originally, and now it has moved to become a complex or entity that smells of a commercial operation.

“If you’re going to put a pitch in, I don’t have a problem, as long as it can be used for many disciplines and is not just being designed to suit one sports club,” he said.

The Gort Siar resident said it was his intention to make a submission to City Council on the plans, once the Part 8 process commenced.

It has been over 20 years since the creation of a public amenity facility on this green space at Kingston was first mooted.

CITY TRIBUNE

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

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

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

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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