Deputy mayor’s casting vote blocks controversial Westside rezoning

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A controversial rezoning, which city planners said would be “hugely detrimental to the city centre” was only stopped from being passed by the deputy mayor’s casting vote.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Deputy Mayor and Fine Gael Galway West candidate Brian Walsh used his casting vote to block the controversial rezoning of lands in Westside.

Councillors were split by seven votes to seven on whether to rezone the land as a district centre, despite warnings from city planners that the move would be damaging to business in Galway city centre.

The submission requested that lands in the Westside commercial area be rezoned for a district centre to allow for the development of a major shopping centre, including a large food store.

“Councillors have been accused of not having the courage to vote in accordance with what is right for the city rather than what appeases individuals with vested interests, but this is an example which discredits that view,” Cllr Walsh told the Galway Advertiser.

“I know the member of the public who made this submission to the Council personally and he will not be pleased by my decision, but it is necessary to set aside friendships in order to do what is right for the common good.”

Cllr Walsh said there is already a zoned district centre in Knocknacarra and a shopping centre located just across the road from the lands in Westside to which the submission related.

Planners had warned councillors that the development of a district centre in Westside could have the effect of prompting high street stores to vacate the city centre, leaving a plethora of empty units.

“This is just one of many examples where I have voted against commercial rezoning,” said Cllr Walsh. “It is necessary for councillors to have the courage to resist bowing to pressure from groups and individuals in order to do what is right for the people of the city, as we are elected to do.”

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