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CITY TRIBUNE

Sacre Coeur site redevelopment not viable for five years

Enda Cunningham

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The new owner of the former Sacre Coeur Hotel in Salthill has told Galway City Council that despite the site’s residential zoning, planners should give the go-ahead for a temporary carpark as it will reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour.

Donegal father and son Colm O’Donnell Senior and Junior of Rockport Limited had sought permission for a temporary carpark on the site for a period of five years, with 61 spaces, CCTV stands and three Pay and Display units.

However, planners pointed out the site is zoned ‘R’ (residential) in the current City Development Plan and there is no provision for such a carpark facility. They added that three of the proposed spaces would be too close to the access/exit point and pointed out that the signage for times of operation and cost of parking were “excessive in scale and visually obtrusive and would lead to visual clutter”.

They also sought clarification on hours of operation – signage included in drawings indicated 8.30am to 6.30pm, but an engineering report with the application said it would be used all day and would cater for bingo in the adjacent Caesar’s Palace casino (which the O’Donnell’s also own).

The applicants responded that the carpark would be for five years only and it is their intention to “redevelop the site for an appropriate development”. They added that it is currently not viable to redevelop it.

They included a letter of support from the resident of the adjacent house, who welcomed the use of the vacant site as a carpark, and said there had been instances of anti-social behaviour in the past.

CCTV, they said, will be managed through Caesar’s Palace, which has a manager on site 24 hours a day.

They added that the carpark will be open 24 hours, and will also be managed through the casino.

“This would provide monitoring of activities in the carpark, reducing the risk of anti-social behaviour and therefore protecting the residential amenities of the adjacent properties,” the applicants said.

The most recently-filed accounts for Rockport Ltd – which also operates Caesar’s palace – (for the year ended August 31, 2015) show the company made a profit of €410,620 that year, and shareholders’ funds stood at just under €1.05 million.

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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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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