Councillors open up units on city centre streets to food outlets

Shop Street: opened up to food outlets under new planning rules. (Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy)

Councillors have voted to allow the use of retail units on the city centre’s main shopping streets as food outlets – despite warnings from the Council’s Chief Executive it could turn Galway into “another Temple Bar”.

Under the new City Development Plan 2017-23 which comes into effect this week, a ‘ban’ on operators opening food outlets in ground floor retail units on the city’s primary streets has been lifted for a period of twelve months.

The new rules cover premises from Eyre Square to Quay Street which have a total retail gross floor space of less than 50 square metres and allows food outlets, “excluding takeaways”.

Chief Executive Brendan McGrath warned councillors during their discussions that the definition of “takeaway” is too broad, and that of all their decisions on the Development Plan, this was one that was likely to cause the most damage.

“I don’t want to see Galway become a Temple Bar, or the main streets to be like O’Connell Street.

“Shopping has become more an experience than a functional activity. It has become an attractor to visit cities and consequently supports a much broader economy than the single activity of purchasing an item.

“To dilute the retail floorspace with non-retail uses would erode what Galway has potential to offer and put this city at a commercial disadvantage,” Mr McGrath said.

He warned that to allow food outlets would introduce serious competition for units on the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, “some of which by nature can be of a generic type, have a globally available offer, which inevitably results in a jaded experience for the visitor”.

For the full details of this story, including the discussion in the Council Chamber, see this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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