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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Shoe box’ housing not in pipeline for Ardaun

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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