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CITY TRIBUNE

Property boom in Galway saw €573m in sales last year

Enda Cunningham

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The sales boom is continuing in Galway’s residential property market, with almost €573 million worth of homes sold in 2018.

The combined value of sales last year was up by just over 6% on 2017 and is the highest figure since official records began in 2010.

An analysis of official figures from the State’s Property Price Register by the Galway City Tribune shows that up until December 14 (the most up-to-date figures available), there were a total of 2,363 property transactions in Galway City and county.

For comparison, in 2010 when the Price Register came into effect, there were 896 transactions, with a combined value of €200m – that means that in eight years, the number of transactions has increased by almost 164%, while the value of sales almost trebled (up 185%).

Up until Week 50 of 2018, the total combined value of residential property sales was €573,022,905, up 6.3% from the €538,901,624 recorded in the exact same 50-week period for 2017, when there were 2,604 transactions.

There was a decrease in the volume of sales of just over 9%, the figures show.

A ‘health warning’ comes with the figures in that the Property Price Register is compiled from data which is filed, for Stamp Duty purposes, with the Revenue Commissioners, and there can be delays before a transaction appears on the register.

The biggest property sale of the year was a bungalow on a half-acre site in Salthill (opposite the former Warwick Hotel), which sold for €1.8m in March. The guide price was €1m.

Planning permission has since been sought on that site for the development of 39 apartments in two blocks.

The next major sale was a palatial four-bed detached house (with fully converted attic) at Barna Gardens in Barna, set on one acre of landscaped gardens, which sold for €1.575m.

As well as 4,200 square feet of accommodation, there is an additional 1,300 sq ft in attic space. It boasts high ceilings, travertine tiled floors, and a master bedroom which spans the full depth of the house – and has been likened to that of a five-star hotel, with double jacuzzi bath among the man luxury features.

A city centre townhouse at 17 New Dock Street, which dates back to the 1900s and has development potential due to a 0.05 ‘L’-shaped site, sold in June for €1.5m, having gone to auction with a €700,000 price tag.

At Forramoyle East, Barna, a stylish six-bed house with its own cinema and internal glass hallway overlooking the private decking and garden, went on the market with a €1.6m price tag and sold for €1.375m.

Cluain Mhuire, a period property on Taylor’s Hill in Galway, sold at auction at the end of 2017, but the €1.4m sale was recorded in 2018. Built in 1913 and designed to facilitate Church of Ireland pastoral activities, it went to auction with a guide price of €1.35m.

On Taylor’s Hill, St Helen’s, which sits on a one-acre site and was built in the 1840s by the brother of Lady Gregory, went on the market with a guide price of €1.5m and sold for €1.311m.

Also on Taylor’s Hill, Averarde, a five-bed detached property which extends to 3,000 square feet, sold for €1.25m.

In total, there were 16 sales which exceeded the €1m mark – three of which were multi-unit residential sales.

The multi-unit sales included just under €34.8m for the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road in Galway, which was purchased by Exeter Property Group, a US-based property fund.

Seventeen apartments on the upper floors at Citypoint on Prospect Hill – the development which houses TK Maxx – sold for a total of €5.112m.

The cheapest property sale recorded in Galway in 2018 was a derelict bungalow at Gortaha, Portumna on 0.2 of an acre, which sold for €7,000.

The Property Price Register figures show that since 2010, the volume of sales being recorded in Galway – and their total value – decreased, before embarking on a significant upward trend.

In 2010, there were 948 sales registered in Galway up to December 14 – the date used in this analysis for all comparisons – with a total value of almost €211.7m.

The comparative figures the following year were varied; the volume of sales was 853 (up less than 1%), while the value was €186m (down 11.7%).

In 2012, the value of sales was up around 4% to €194.3m and there was a 22.5% increase in the volume of sales from 956 to 1,171.

There was a subsequent massive jump in total values and volumes the following year – up 35% to 1,585 and up 27% to €248m.

Between 2013 and 2014, the volume of sales was up 53% from 1,585 to 2,425, while the total value was up 52% to almost €377.4m.

In 2015, there were 2,828 transactions with a total value of just under €477m, while in 2016, there were 2,604 transactions with a total value of €538.9m.

Looking at sales during the entirety of 2010 to 2017 and up to December 14, 2018, more than €3.34 billion worth of residential property sales have been recorded.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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