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Proposals for Ardaun branded ‘wholly unsafe’ and ‘pie in the sky’

Stephen Corrigan



An advocacy group for cyclists in Galway has hit out at the “inherently car-dependent” proposals for the development of a new city suburb in Ardaun.

Galway Cycling Campaign have rejected claims that the new suburb would have good connectivity to the city and surrounding employment hubs – and said that the plans would only add cars to already gridlocked roads.

In September, Galway City Council released a ‘mini City Development Plan’ for Ardaun in which they outlined how construction of some 1,098 housing units on the east side of the city could start as early as 2019 – supporting an estimated 3,000 inhabitants.

Planners outlined a vision of “a place where cycling, walking and public transport is promoted and embedded through design, layout, appropriate use mixes and density standards”.

However, Public Relations Officer for Galway Cycling Campaign, Oisín Ó Nidh, said that the proposals lack any certainty in areas referencing pedestrian and cyclist access.

“It’s kind of pie in the sky stuff,” said Mr Ó Nidh. “A lot of it was set down without timelines or any concrete proposals – they don’t say, ‘we will do this’ or ‘we will build this before the housing’ – we don’t know when you would see some of these proposals.”

The campaign group have said that proposed access routes to the new residential area will be wholly unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.

They point to evidence cited in the National Cycle Policy Framework (2009) which states that research carried out on the Swords Bypass in Dublin concluded that the accident rate for two-wheelers on roundabouts was five times higher than they were expecting.

Mr Ó Nidh said that the suggestion of creating an ‘urban village’ in Ardaun, similar to Salthill, is unsuitable given its intersection by the N6.

“That roundabout [Martin] is a big barrier for anyone trying to get to and from the Galway Clinic already – that is without thousands of people living in Ardaun.

“Bóthar an Chóiste on the Headford Road would be a better comparison because it is situated on a national road – that would make more sense.

“This is even worse than Knocknacarra because at least in Knocknacarra, cyclists and pedestrians don’t have to navigate their way along a busy dual-carriageway,” said Oisín.

The campaigners highlighted that the Council has mentioned a ‘public transport’ bridge in their proposals – linking Ardaun to Doughiska.

However, they criticised the fact that it is not a prerequisite for the development to proceed – with Mr Ó Nidh arguing that bridges over the N6 need to be front and centre to these plans.

“What they would really want to have is concrete proposals for a way to get people over that motorway – they need a different route because these proposals are just not feasible,” he said.

Mr Ó Nidh said that these proposals should be very carefully considered before any final development plan is signed off on.

“I would say they have to go back to the drawing board and build a concrete proposal of what they envisage this town to be.

“They need to make it a town where walking and cycling are supported.

“The big problem is that Ardaun was a concept before the motorway was even built – that kind of split it in two and they have been trying to work around that since,” he pointed out.


Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island




Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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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‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
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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