Residents fail to prevent go-ahead of new pastoral centre

St. James' Church, Bushypark: plans for Pastoral Centre.

Residents in Bushypark have failed in their efforts to prevent the construction of a new pastoral centre beside the local church – they felt that it would have an adverse impact on the church which is a protected structure.

The residents also questioned the merits of providing a pastoral centre given the fact that there are only two Masses in St James’ Church, one on a Saturday evening and the other on a Sunday morning.

It was also argued that the local GAA sports centre provides facilities for the youth while the national school has a community hall, funded by the residents, that can play host to several local events.

According to the residents the former presbytery was sold without consultation with the local community and this could have accommodated a pastoral centre without the need for a new building to dominate and impact on the church and graveyard.

However, St James’ Parish Council have been given the green light to build the new pastoral centre as the appeal by local residents to An Bord Pleanala has failed.

The appeal was lodged by Bushypark Parishioners Group who argued that the proposed pastoral centre is much too big for the site and will be out of character with the church which is a protected structure.

Earlier this year city planners gave the go-ahead to St James’ Parish Council for the construction of the pastoral centre along with the renovation of the church which includes a new porch, new stained glass windows, the replacement of slates and other modifications.

Permission was granted subject to 10 mainly standard conditions being complied with. One of them requires the Parish Council to outline what the pastoral centre will be used for.

Residents expressed a series of concerns about the proposals, while environmental group An Taisce said that while the repairs to the church should be permitted it urged thay the pastoral centre be refused.

When the planning application initially came before Galway City Council, it was opposed by An Taisce while 10 residents – two with addresses in Sligo and Inis Mór – along with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (the former National Roads Authority) also objected to the proposal.

City planners approved the revised application for an 830 square foot pastoral centre (around two-thirds the size of the 1,300 sq ft one originally planned) and restoration and renovation works to St James’ Church. Proposed alterations to the choir gallery were dropped.

The residents, who lodged an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, argued that there is insufficient car parking at the proposed development. They have also questioned the need for a pastoral centre as there is an existing hall nearby.

They also informed the Planning Appeals Board that the view from the Grotto will be obscured from the pastoral building and have also expressed concerned over what the facility will be used for.

They stated that the proposed treatment plant would be close to the existing entrance and graveyard while enclosing the area in a cage system, as was proposed, would be “unsightly and a health hazard”.

The Bushypark Parishioners Group were also opposed to the felling of mature trees and said that details were unclear as to the applicants’ proposals with regards to existing trees within the site and their protection.

“The pastoral centre is premature pending the determination of the (city) by-pass route,” it was further argued.

However, their appeal failed to win the support of An Bord Pleanála and permission was granted for the pastoral centre.