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CITY TRIBUNE

Shopping centre tenants voice concerns over café proposal

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction

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Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags

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Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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