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Shopping centre tenants voice concerns over café proposal

Enda Cunningham



Galway City Council has sought clarification from the owners of Westside Shopping Centre on the exact number of parking spaces in the centre and their usage, following a proposal for a standalone café in the carpark.

A total of 11 of the tenants of the centre – including anchors Dunnes Stores – have raised concerns about the impact on parking and potential traffic hazards which the café would cause.

Hurley Property ICAV, an investment vehicle which owns several shopping centres around the country, had sought permission for the single storey building alongside the McDonalds drive-thru in the carpark.

The café would have seating for more than 70 customers, and would, according to the application, remove 27 spaces from the carpark.

According to the applicants, there are 290 parking spaces in the main carpark, and a further thirteen to the rear of the centre.

However, an observation lodged with the Council on behalf of Peter Murphy Electrical, St Anthony & Claddagh Credit Union, Newsweek, Hair Republic, Evergreen, McSharry’s Pharmacy, Divilly’s Butchers, Rose Garden restaurant and the RSA Driving Test Centre points out that there are, in fact, 266 spaces to the front of the centre.

The submission noted that during a survey of the carpark, there was 80% occupancy at off-peak, and that traffic congestion within the carpark, as well at the junction with Bóthar le Chéile, would be further compounded by the café.

Concerns were also raised about 43 parking spaces inside a rear yard gate which do not have planning permission and that pedestrians walking to and from the café would pose a serious health and safety risk.

“The addition of another food outlet would significantly reduce the ability of the existing food outlets to trade profitably.

“The placing of the café in the centre of the carpark would result in the view to the centre from Seamus Quirke Road being restricted,” the submission reads.

Dunnes Stores objected to the application on the grounds of loss of parking spaces, potential traffic hazard and visual impact.

Michael O’Hehir of O’Hehir’s Bakery objected on the grounds of parking provision and that the café could have a negative impact on the ability of the shopping centre to provide its primary function as a retail centre.

Susan Corbett of Corrib Park also submitted an objection to the Council due to the impact she believes the café would have on parking and the safe access to and exit from the shopping centre.

“A visit to the site at peak times will demonstrate that cars trying to egress the centre are backed up along Bóthar le Chéile and back into the shopping centre, while trying to get onto the Seamus Quirke Road. This currently affects traffic flow around the existing carpark and in this context, there is a significant concern that the proposed new building will further impact on traffic flow,” she wrote.

According the application, the proposal is to construct a single storey free-standing café “in keeping with the upgrading of the shopping centre site and the continuing need to keep the centre relevant to today’s consumers”.

The building will be located within the existing carpark area facing onto Seamus Quirke Road. The existing pedestrian access is to be maintained. The café will be constructed along the existing pathway with the main entrance to the café accessed off this path.

“The building will be constructed in the modern vernacular with an open floor plan. The ceiling will be high and full height glazing will give an open bright retail space.

“It is considered that the proposed development would support the ongoing operation of the existing district centre through the construction of a high-quality development that would broaden the existing offering on site,” the application reads.

The applicants have until the end of November to respond to the Council or the plans will be deemed withdrawn.

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€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms




Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
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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