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Restoration plan approved for 19th century Blackrock cottage

Enda Cunningham



An Bord Pleanála has given the green light for the restoration of the derelict 19th century cottage at Blackrock to create a new restaurant and bicycle rental shop.

In its decision, the Board overruled the recommendation of its own planning inspector that a Galway City Council refusal of permission from earlier this year be upheld.

Cork-based McHugh Property Holdings Ltd – where former Galway footballer Finian Hanley serves as a director – sought permission last January for the refurbishment of Blackrock Cottage to a café/restaurant and the construction of a single-storey detached bicycle rental and repair shop, and 18 parking spaces with access onto the main Salthill Road.

The Council’s Parks Superintendent said it was of “great concern” that the applicant did not consult with the Council or owners of the adjoining golf course prior to lodging the application.

In its refusal, the Council noted the lands are zoned ‘RA’ (for recreational and amenity use’, and by its nature and scale, such a development would contravene the City Development Plan.

The Council added it would impact on a protected view and frustrate their objective to deliver a cycle greenway in their area.

Planners also said it would fail to adequately accommodate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and that the vehicular access onto Salthill Road – close to the entrance to Blackrock and adjacent to disabled parking spaces – would be a potential traffic hazard.

The Council’s Heritage Officer, Jim Higgins, described the extension as “ugly and inappropriate to the vernacular setting” and said he was completely opposed to it.

During the appeals process, the plans were revised, with the parking spaces and access onto Salthill Road removed.

The applicants argued that the development would be appropriate in terms of planning and sustainable development of the area and would enhance the amenity and recreational value of those using the Promenade and beach.

In her recommendation that planning be refused, An Bord Pleanála Inspector Bríd Maxwell said the development would not meet the high quality of design required for the prominent site and would adversely affect the area.

She added that, in her opinion, the development would contravene the City Development Plan die to the recreation and amenity (RA) zoning of the site and that it would “seriously detract” from what is a protected view of special amenity value.

Granting permission and overruling the Inspector, the Board said the development would enhance the tourist resource for the Prom and its environs.

With the omission of the parking element, the Board felt it would facilitate the [future] provision of the two-way Bearna greenway route, and would not adversely affect the visual character or qualities of the area.

It found the bike rental and café uses were compliant with the RA zoning.

The Board ordered that the site be landscaped, using only indigenous deciduous trees and hedging species, and that any plants which are removed, become seriously damaged or diseased within five years of completion of the development be replaced in the next planting season.

The hours of operation of the café have been restricted to 8am to 11pm.

Concerns has been raised by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that the development had the potential to negatively impact on the Galway Bay Complex candidate Special Area of Conservation and the Inner Galway Bay SPA (Special Protection Area).

According to the applicants, the aim of the scheme was to secure the restoration of an eyesore.

“The bicycle rental and repair element is also complementary to the established recreation use and will support an alternative means of experiencing the coastal areas in the city in a sustainable way.

“Both the café and the cycle elements will add to and enhance the prominent role of Salthill and Blackrock in the city as the primary year-round recreation areas.”


Huge reward for ‘dognap’ – as canine companion dies of broken heart

Denise McNamara



James with Biggy, Poopie and Little One

Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most famous dog, Biggy the Irish Wolfhound, has “died of a broken heart” after his Jack Russell best mate was the victim of a suspected ‘dognap’ – which led to the owner putting up a €20,000 reward.

Following a social media campaign which went viral, Biggy was famously reunited with his family 11 days after he went missing in 2013. He was discovered on the motorway outside Athenry.

Nine years later, James Leopold Mechels has erected hundreds of posters all over the city and suburbs in a desperate bid to find the ageing Jack Russell he calls ‘Little One’.

The Belgian native recently increased a reward for the return of his beloved pooch from €1,000 to €20,000. But so far, no credible sightings have been made.

“He’s been missing for 3,288 hours – 137 days, I’m so exhausted, so upset, so anxious. I’ve stopped working to focus all of my effort into finding him. I’ve cycled all over the city, I’ve driven to the horse fair in Ballinasloe,” James told the Galway City Tribune this week.
This is a preview only. To read more of James’ story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

■ Anybody with information is asked to call 087 0650678 or Ark Vets on 091 584185.

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Row deepens over Tiny Traders market




Galway City Tribune – The row between the Tiny Traders Village and Galway Arts Centre – the operators of Nuns’ Island Theatre – deepened this week as the Arts Centre announced its intentions to open its own market on the site.

Manager of the Tiny Traders Village, Paul David Murphy, has claimed this was proof that it was always Galway Arts Centre, and its Managing Director, Páraic Breathnach’s, intention to “force” them out, adding that he had felt under constant threat of being shut down.

“It did come as a bit of a shock, but it was something I was expecting,” said Mr Murphy of a post on social media announcing that a new market would open.

“It’s now obvious that they were trying to get rid of us and I can’t believe how transparent they’ve been. Up until this point, there had been a little degree of mystery as to why this happened. It’s sad because the Tiny Traders Village was working really well.”

This comes following a decision by the Tiny Traders to cease trading two weeks ago, citing changes that Galway Arts Centre had requested that Mr Murphy said would have made his business “unviable”.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune this week, Páraic Breathnach confirmed that they had requested changes – involving layout alterations and clearance – but this had been done due to health and safety concerns.

“There were changes requested to comply with fire regulations, safety and health. They were in relation to the blocking of pathways, the blocking of fire exits, clearance between stalls and the affixing of canopies to a listed building,” said Mr Breathnach.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Call for Gardaí to confiscate vehicles involved in fly-tipping

Francis Farragher



Children's toys, a bed and a cot amongst an illegal dumping site in Ballybane

Galway City Tribune –  confiscation of vehicles – and driver disqualification – have been sought by a Galway TD and a local councillor for those involved in illegal dumping.

According to Independent TD, Noel Grealish and Independent councillor, Noel Larkin, illegal dumping on the east side of Galway City has now reached ‘an all-time high’.

Last week, Deputy Grealish and Cllr Larkin, met with Climate Action and Environment Minister, Richard Bruton, to seek new measures cracking down on those involved in illegal dumping.

“I asked Minister Bruton to introduce legislation that would result in driver disqualification for persons convicted of illegal dumping while using a vehicle. I am also seeking for the introduction of legislation that will give judges the power to order the confiscation of vehicles used for illegal dumping,” said Deputy Grealish.

The Gardaí and Galway City and Council Councils have now been asked to establish an ‘all-county initiative’ to tackle the problem.

This year, Galway City Council was allocated just €50,000 from a €7.4m Government fund to tackle illegal dumping – the lowest figure of any local authority in the country.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage of the illegal dumping issue, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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