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CITY TRIBUNE

Restoration plan approved for 19th century Blackrock cottage

Enda Cunningham

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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.”

CITY TRIBUNE

“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”

Enda Cunningham

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The Rahoon flats, which were built in 1972 and demolished in 1998, widely regarded as a failed social housing project.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.

Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.

A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.

Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.

A computer-generated image of the Glenveagh plans for the site opposite Gort na Bró and beside Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.

Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.

Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.

Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.

Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.

His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.

“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.

When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.

Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.

“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”

Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.

He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.

The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
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.

The petition is available online HERE

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CITY TRIBUNE

Regeneration funding sought for community centre

Stephen Corrigan

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A computer-generated image of the proposed communit centre in Newcastle

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – With a decision imminent on planning permission to build a new community centre in Newcastle, city councillors will be asked next Monday to support an application for major government funding to proceed with the project.

A motion by Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) will seek the approval of the City Council to make an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) – an overall fund of €2bn available for major infrastructural projects in cities.

Chairman of the Newcastle Combined Community Association (NCCA) Seamus Davey said that they expected a decision on their planning application by the end of January, and were hopeful of getting the support of councillors for this funding application.

“While planning permission hasn’t been granted yet – it has dragged on a bit because of a request for further information – we expect to have it approved soon.

“This project will be shovel ready and as soon as we get planning permission, we’ll have the engineering documents drawn up. As soon as we have funding, we’ll be putting it out to tender,” said Mr Davey.

The Council is set to reach a decision on the application on February 6.

The proposal for funding under the URDF has to come from the Council so it is crucial the project got the full backing of Council members, Mr Davey added.
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.

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