Increased housing density in the planned new town of Ardaun is not a charter for ‘shoe box’ housing, the City Council’s Chief Executive has insisted.
Brendan McGrath rejected a suggestion that increasing the number of units developers could build per hectare would diminish the quality of homes.
On his recommendation, city councillors agreed to increase the density of homes per hectare in the planned new town from 35 in the Draft Local Area Plan to between 35-50.
In effect the cap of 35 was lifted to 50 but the material alteration to the plan, also allows for higher than 50 densities, which will be examined on a case by case basis and with agreement of city planners.
Outlining his reasoning, Mr McGrath said: “The proposed increase in minimum density thresholds encourages the delivery of houses and establishes a critical mass to enable the sustainable rollout if infrastructure such as public transport, water services and schools.”
He said Bus Éireann and Irish Water need a ‘critical mass’ or large population of people in Ardaun in order for it to be viable for them to provide services.
City Councillor Collette Connolly (Ind) strongly resisted the proposed increase in minimum densities.
“It’s backwards we are going making people live in shoeboxes; that’s what we’re doing here,” she fumed.
Cllr Connolly said there are homes in the city that are so small “there isn’t a wall in the sitting room that can accommodate an average family two-and-a-half-seater sofa”. There were no utility rooms or storage space either for bicycles, she said.
She added: “That’s very, very wrong. It is the wrong route to do down. Increasing densities is just pure greed.”
Senior planner Caroline Phelan disagreed, and said that, based on future projections on household composition, 40% of people who will need homes in the city in future are either one-person or two-person households.
Cllr Frank Fahy said 10% of all homes built in Ardaun will be handed over to the City Council for social housing. He said there was a huge number of people on the housing waiting list looking for one and two bed homes. “I think the market will find its niche,” he said.
Cllr Mairead Farrell (SF) asked for clarity. She didn’t want to replace one problem (a housing shortage) with another (houses that were too small).
Mr McGrath reassured the councillors that this was “not about squeezing people into shoe boxes” and said he “wouldn’t dream about putting a proposal like this before you” if it meant units would be too small for modern living.
He said the densities were about creating mass and was about having the capacity to cater for the projected growth of Galway City over the next decades so that it is a “modern and sustainable city”.
The increased densities were agreed following a vote 12-6.
Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’
From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.
A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.
Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction. He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.
The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.
He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.
An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.
He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.
Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.
They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.
Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.
Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.
“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.
“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.
Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”
Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees
From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.
The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.
The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.
“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.
“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”
The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.
The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.
The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.
City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours
From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.
Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.
However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.
“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.
She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.
“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.
“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.
“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.
Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.
“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.