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Top architect brands Galway as ‘dominated by cars’



An internationally-renowned architect has said that Galway City is lacking vision and is dominated by cars, with motorists getting priority over pedestrians and cyclists.

In addition, Angela Brady, former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and chairperson of the Royal Institutes of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), agreed that the authority most benefiting financially from car parking in the city should not be the same one investing in transport and urban planning.

“Walking around today, it was blatantly obvious that there was a conflict of interest. That needs to be separated – they should not be the same,” the presenter of TV show, Designing Ireland, said at the Galway Environmental Network’s (GEN) inaugural event in the Porter Shed on Saturday.

“If you allow car parking in the city centre, you will kill it. There are a lot of cities that have cut the amount of cars coming in, but it’s a matter of also increasing public transport in order for a city to work.

“I can be critical, because I don’t live here – this is a fantastic city, but it lacks vision,” she said, adding that the decisions about the future of Galway were not being made by those who would ultimately be affected by them – the people.

“To get this vision, you need to have a city architect with vision and a budget, with the roads engineer somewhere out here (well removed) because roads are killing this city, and killing its surroundings. There are much more important things than the 1960’s idea, where the city engineer ruled with no public consultation.

“You can make one or two bad decisions, and your city is finished, because people haven’t had a chance to have their say. You don’t not want to lose that chance of making Galway an absolutely vibrant and onward-moving city.

“The most successful cities are those that intensify, and don’t have ribbon development spread out, which brings all of the problems of traffic coming back in (to the centre) again. Traffic is a major problem here, I can see it as a pedestrian.”

Ms Brady pointed out that successful cities put pedestrians first. Galway was a car-dominated city, she said, with car parks using the best spaces.

“We have to play down the car, and have good public transport, good walkways, good cycle paths, good waterways – and use them.

“The harbour front is crying out for the right kind of development, the right type of urban structure but, in order to make a city great, you have to have your say as a member of the public, as a Galwegian, as somebody who is going to be affected by whatever decisions are made. The best cities are the ones that have got community consultation at the heart of every large decision that is made in their city. Without it, huge mistakes can be made, no matter what city you are talking about.

“We as professions, as clients, architects, or politicians cannot think that we know we will get something right, unless you ask the people who are the stakeholders – the residents, the public, the businesses – people make a city, and without their say, the city won’t work as well as it could, and it causes confrontation. You will get negativity when people haven’t had their say and I fear that in Galway there is not enough public consultation.”

Comparing Cork and Galway, Ms Brady said that the latter had turned its back on “the most beautiful waterfront.”

“It’s now time for change, to go and face the Atlantic, open up the waterfront, because water brings such life and joy to so many places.”

Referencing successful building projects in China, Scandinavia, and London, she said that, as architects, they must consider the social life of buildings, and any spaces in between.

On a project for Ballymore, a large Irish developer, on a site in the Isle of Dogs, East London, she was involved with designing 200 homes in a mixed-housing development. There were no cars allowed on site, and only a minimal number underground, with the strategy by the planners that only one-in-three homes had any car parking space in this development.

“Because they were beside public transport, there were very good policies to say: you don’t need a car,” she said.

Encouraging Mayor of Galway, Niall McNeilis, to start a no-car policy in Galway City Centre on a trial basis, she referenced the example shown in Clonakilty, Co Cork, which actually has its own Town Architect.

“This is a great success story, because the people have said: ‘We don’t want Astna Square to have cars parked all over it, how about we put people first’. The cars may pass, but a pedestrian has priority. Now, people go there, shops are thriving, people sit out in the square, as they would in Italy.

“They have festivals, where they close roads, and have the festivals where no cars go down, and they have a weekend of fun. It’s good for people’s souls, and the soul of the town.”

Ms Brady was one of a number of speakers at the Galway Environmental Network’s inaugural event last week, which was chaired by Daibhí MacDomhnaill, a Galway-native and a leading expert in urbanism in Ireland.

Other speakers included Frank Monahan, from Architecture on the Edge; Professor Kevin Leyden, Joint Director, Creative, Liveable and Sustainable Communities Research Cluster Leader, Whitaker Institute; Professor Ulf Strohmayer, Professor of Geography, NUI Galway; Patrick Faherty, Assistant Planning/Projects Officer, NUI Galway; and Rosie Webb, Senior Architect in Economic Development at Limerick City and County Council.

“The formation of the GEN, and its close links with Galway City and County Councils, the Galway City Community Network and many other established organisations will ensure that the environment in Galway now has a strong voice in the decision-making process at all levels,” said Caroline Kelly Stanley, best known for her work in promoting Merlin Woods.

■ To get involved with Galway Environmental Network, email


Plan for ‘world-class’ campus with potential for 10,000 jobs at Galway Airport



From this week’s Galway CIty Tribune – A proposal to transform the former Galway Airport into a ‘world-class’ business and technology campus has been drawn up by Galway County Council – with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs.

The plan, which was compiled as part of the Draft County Development Plan, proposes a multi-million-euro investment in the 115-acre site owned jointly by the County and City Councils.

According to the vision document, the airport site at Carnmore could become a key economic driver that would “attract and secure long-term investment in Galway and the western region, and underpin the development of the Galway Metropolitan Area”.

Among the sectors identified as potential occupants are renewable energy, biodiversity, food science and logistics.

Some of the structures included for are a ‘landmark building’; commercial units; park amenity and recreation space; a renewable energy park; and a multi-purpose leisure facility.

A contemporary development with the potential to accommodate emerging industries is promised, with projected employment numbers ranging between 3,500 to 10,000 over time.

However, county councillors raised concerns at a meeting this week that the proposal they had seen in the Development Plan had been ‘sitting on a shelf’ since last March – and they still hadn’t seen what was dubbed ‘the masterplan’ for the airport site.

Cllr Liam Carroll (FG) told the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District meeting that the recent news that Oranmore was among the locations being looked at by multinational tech giant, Intel, put fresh focus on the future of the airport.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Work expected to start on Galway City cycleways next summer



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first six projects in the city’s major new cycle network are expected to begin construction by next June.

In an update on developments that are in train to improve the lot of cyclists, councillors at this week’s local authority meeting were told that the Martin Roundabout (near the Galway Clinic) would next be changed to a junction and the BusConnects, involving priority bus lanes from Moneenageisha to University Hospital Galway, were advancing.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has approved a raised cycle lane north of Railway Bridge on Doughiska Road South and for a shared street south of the bridge.

Eglinton Canal will turn into a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Four weeks of public consultation on both of these is set to begin in October, with the projects set to go to detailed design and tender following final NTA approval.

Ballybane, Castlepark and Bóthar Stiofáin Roads will also go to public consultation for “raised adjacent cycle schemes” a month after that.

The six projects are expected to begin construction by the end of June or early July next year.

Millars Lane is currently in preliminary design stage after clearing works were carried out last November.

Options are being examined and parking survey prepared for Threadneedle, Bishop O’Donnell, Dr Mannix, Devon Park, Salthill Road Upper and Lower Roads with input and designs from the Parkmore Strategic Framework awaited for the Monivea and Doughiska North Roads.

Active Travel Schemes had been approved in principle by the NTA for Ballyloughane and Clybaun South Roads, involving pedestrian crossings, traffic calming, signalisation of junctions and the integration of safe school routes.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) noted that the first quarter of 2021 was when some of these projects were to go to construction, according to a previous timetable.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Pamela’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Racecourse Park and Ride a non-runner for Christmas in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The lack of a park and ride service this Christmas will drive shoppers out of town at a time when businesses are struggling to recover from months in lockdown, the Mayor has warned.

This is after it was revealed that the City Council has failed to secure an alternative location for the service – with its usual base at Galway Racecourse out of action due to the ongoing vaccination programme.

The service, which had previously operated for the three-week period in the run up to Christmas, enabled motorists to park their cars in Ballybrit and take a return trip by bus to town at a cost of just €2 – taking hundreds of cars out of the city centre.

The Mayor, Cllr Colette Connolly, said it was ‘completely ludicrous’ that it would not be in operation this year, in a city that was already gridlocked with car traffic.

“I think that it is a retrograde step not to proceed with the Christmas Park and Ride because we know what will happen – we’ve seen before what happens at the Corrib Centre around Christmas where traffic backs up and people get stuck in the car park,” said the Mayor.

This would result in shoppers from outside the city avoiding coming in, while others would go to other towns and cities to avoid traffic misery.

“They will go to Limerick or to Dublin, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. They will go to Athlone, because they may as well go there, rather than spend two hours sitting in traffic on Lough Atalia,” added the Independent councillor.

In Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath’s report to councillors, it is stated that “it is looking unlikely that Galway City Council will be able to run the Christmas Park and Ride in 2021”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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