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Standoff between residents and developer over planning dispute


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Standoff between residents and developer over planning dispute Standoff between residents and developer over planning dispute

Gardaí had to be called to the scene of a standoff between residents at Rockbarton in Salthill and a developer on foot of a dispute over planning.

The row, which relates to a live planning application to build 22 residential units at Rockbarton, Salthill, centres on an allegation of “unauthorised development” which the developer – K King Construction – vehemently denies.

The altercation broke out between a number of residents on Gort Ard Avenue and workers on behalf of developer Walter King when it was alleged that works were taking place on a private residence, related to the site on which it’s proposed to build 22 properties.

Planning for this development on the 1.65-acre site behind Pearse Stadium was granted by Galway City Council in May 2022, but this was appealed to An Bord Pleanála and a decision has not yet been issued.

Speaking to the Galway City Tribune last week, Walter King confirmed that his workers were on Gort Ard Avenue last week but said they were not engaged in work on the development under consideration by the Board.

“A private resident next door [to our site] asked us to do some work there,” said Mr King. “There is full planning for what we’re going to work at.”

Residents who spoke to this newspaper this week said they believed works related to the site for which planning permission is under appeal, and their intervention was to stop the destruction of trees along the boundary of the site.

Developer Walter King said portacabins had been installed for work on private residence, not on a related site where his plans for 22 houses have been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

“There was a standoff between the developer and tree surgeon, and the residents. The developer says the trees in question are on their land and we dispute that,” said the local resident.

Mr King insisted his workers had no intention of felling trees for the development and said in their application for planning permission on the 22-unit development, they had intentionally avoided the trees – including them as part of the open space in the development.

When asked if any trees had been or would be felled, Mr King said: “Absolutely not.”

“It’s all open space – there will be no trees felled . . . there will be some shrubbery removed but there is no preservation order on that.”

Mr King said a number of portacabins had been installed, relating to the work on the private residence and stressed that these had nothing to do with the 22-unit development.

“Because we have put in containers, as we are entitled to do, some residents have assumed we were going to do work on our site but that is not the case.

“There is planning permission for what they want done and they have contracted us to do those works,” he said.

K King workers had spray painted a line on site which delineated the area encompassed in the planning application, and this line had been disputed by a number of residents.

“We have asked them to get their surveyor to meet our surveyor . . . we’ve asked for a map to show us where they believe the boundary is, but it has fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr King.

Galway City Council has, however, issued a warning letter to K King Construction.

Seen by the Galway City Tribune, the letter states that “it has come to the attention of Galway City Council that unauthorised development has been, is being or may be carried out” at Rockbarton, Salthill – namely “unauthorised works without the benefit of planning permission”.

The Council stated that this matter was under investigation by the Planning Enforcement Section.

Mr King confirmed that he had received this letter but insisted that upon investigation, the Council would find that no such unauthorised development had taken place.

He described the situation as “sad”, noting that the development which he believed was necessary for housing had been held up for 18 months, adding that An Bord Pleanála was taking up to two years to deal with planning appeals.

“This is NIMBYism [not in my back yard] at its best. Those objecting own properties there and they’re objecting to everyone else.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that they can hold up a development of housing for more than two years. There are around 70 families living around there with no objection to it. It is sad to see but we have no choice but to wait,” said Mr King.

He said that his company was not going to begin works on the development until An Bord Pleanála gave them the green light.

“We’re over 30 years building houses in Galway – we know what we can and cannot do,” said Mr King.

Local Councillor Níall McNelis (Lab) said he had been contacted by residents raising concerns.

“It was brought to my attention by residents and I have referred it to the planning office,” he said.

Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) said he had met with residents and he said he believed the trees in question should be maintained.

“My own view is that the row of trees would enhance the locality, not only for existing residents but for any residents in the new development too,” he said.

(Photo: Gardaí were called to the scene of the dispute at Gort Ard Avenue).

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