Planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment of the Sportsground – but with the condition that any events outside the norm, such as concerts, would have to receive the prior approval of Galway City Council.
This comes after some speculation locally that the new development, which involves the construction of a 12,000-capacity stadium, could be a location for large-scale concerts.
In a submission to the Council, the Lough Atalia Development Association demanded that a stipulation be put in place banning “free standing events” at the Sportsground.
In conditions attached to the planning permission granted, city planners have specified that Connacht Rugby cannot deviate from a list of events attached as part of its application – which included a significant number of Connacht Rugby Pro games, community events, media open days or briefings and school tours – but no concerts.
It is stated that these limitations are in place “to clarify the nature and extent of development approved by this permission”.
It is understood that Connacht Rugby have not included for consideration any concerts or night-time events as part of their financial model for funding the Sportsground’s redevelopment.
Plans for the College Road venue include the construction of a new grandstand, high-performance training centre, 4G synthetic playing pitch, bars, food stands and supporter facilities.
A number of other conditions have been attached, including the controlled use of floodlighting – for three hours on televised match days, with pre-match lighting for one-and-a-half hours and post-match for two hours.
It is stated that floodlights “shall not be used for concerts or any other recreational activity, as not applied for under this planning application”.
The planner’s report specifies that floodlighting shall not be used after 10.30pm on any day, and independent logs of usage must also be kept.
The developer has also been instructed to submit a traffic management plan prior to the first match at the new facility “in the interest of maximising permeability to the site and to adjoining lands”.
A total of seven observations were lodged on the application for planning – many expressing concern over traffic and noise pollution.
However, planners at City Hall concluded that the proposed stadium would provide “positive contribution to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
“It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions outlined below, the proposed development will not give rise to any issues that would impact negatively on residential amenity in the local area and it is not considered to undermine the objectives of the Galway City Council Development Plan.”
Last week, city councillors voted to give top priority for up to €30 million in Government sports grants to the Sportsground – with many believing the redevelopment of Connacht Rugby’s home ground had the best chance of securing funding in a competition that puts Galway up against large sports infrastructure projects across the five Irish regional cities.
Welcoming the news that planning permission had been granted, Cllr Mike Crowe said this would be a significant project for the region.
“I’m delighted that planning permission has been granted for the Sportsground and I look forward to seeing the development progress.
“The development of this new stadium is very important, not only to Galway City, but also to the county and the entire region,” said the Fianna Fáil councillor.