Beware that line on the Map! – Summer 1998

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The whole thrust of the Draft Athenry Town Development Plan for 1998 – 2003 is growth or the potential for growth. Additional land is zoned to accommodate the rising demand for housing in the area, – new roads are planned to take account of extra cars and car users; larger schools are proposed along with facilities for the community.

Due to the pressure on Galway City and the physical constraints imposed by the Corrib geology and lack of infrastructure, was inevitable that sooner or later developers would find Athenry and recognise its potential -easy commuting distance to Galway for work and shopping; on the national rail network, affordable land for development; pleasant town with good facilities; picturesque rural hinterland – a town with character and essentially a nice place to live and raise a family.

However, for Athenry looking from the inside out, it has all come as a bit of a shock. The people ask how will the town cope with all these new houses? More cars equal more traffic jams! Who will protect our heritage?

The Draft Plan attempts to answer all these questions and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the proposals. The plan seeks to put some kind of control on the development which is taking place all around us. Bear in mind that planning applications are currently dealt with on the basis of the previous Town Plan and legislation enacted in 1963. With each further permission granted, precedents are set for density, house type, plot ratio, aesthetics, amenity areas, etc. Therefore, the harder it is to challenge an application – the system is inherently weak.

But a plan is just that. Without resources to back it up it remains a plan. Let me give you an example. Many people, some new to the area, may drive into Athenry via the Dublin Road and wonder as they approach the town why someone doesn’t do something about the white house, run down, with holes in the roof. The answer I can reveal, is because of a plan. Many years ago a line was placed on the Town Plan around the back of the castle. That line goes directly through that white house and there is still no money to build the road!

I know for certain that the owner would love to do something about the house but he cannot because of a line on a map. In an urban context this is known as planning blight. An area becomes blighted for years because of lack of investment due to a decision to at some time in the future put a road through the area. So a plan can be a dangerous document which is why it is so important that as many people as possible make their feelings known about the proposals. Remember that the line on the map could go through your house or garden.

If you disagree, or indeed, agree with the proposals why not say so? There is no reason whatsoever why you should meekly accept what is proposed by Galway County Council. I believe that the Council would warmly welcome your contribution after all it is easier to take the line of least resistance than to force something on unwilling recipients.

The Draft Town Plan for Athenry is on display during office hours at the County Council Offices in Athenry and Galway and the ADC Office in Caheroyan.

At the public meeting jointly hosted by Athenry ADC, Athenry Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Athenry Community Council, it was agreed to seek an extension of the consultation period and to invite people, groups, voluntary organisations etc. to make their own comments on the plan. Please make your submission to: Bridie Fahy, Secretary, Athenry Community Council; Anna Gallagher, Secretary. Athenry Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Kieran Hickland, Manager, Athenry ADC, Caheroyan, Athenry.

P.S. Councillor Matt Loughnane, on behalf of Galway County Council, recently informed me that a two – month extension to the consultation period has been agreed. The closing date for submissions is now 2lst October 1998.

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About this record

Written by Kieran Hickland

Published here 01 Mar 2023 and originally published Summer 1998

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