Appeal on planning decision against derelict Blackrock cottage

An artist's impression of the plans which are under appeal

A decision to refuse permission for a café and bike-hire shop on the site of an extensively damaged cottage at Blackrock, Salthill, is now the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

The developers had also proposed providing 18 car-parking spaces which environmentalists felt represented over-development at this location.

Galway City Council recently refused plans to restore the derelict 19th Century cottage at Blackrock on the grounds that it would detract from the character of the area and could prove a traffic hazard.

But the developers have appealed this decision on the grounds that the building on the Salthill Promenade represents a considerable eyesore.

It is proposed to refurbish Blackrock Cottage and provide a café/restaurant along with a single-storey detached bicycle-rental and repair shop.

The application was made by Cork-based McHugh Property Holdings Ltd where former Galway and Salthill footballer Finian Hanley serves as Chief Operating Officer.

In its refusal, the City Council noted the lands where the development is proposed are zoned for recreational and amenity use and such a plan would contravene the City Development Plan.

The Council added it would impact on a protected view and frustrate its objective to deliver a cycle greenway in the local authority area.

Planners also said it would fail to adequately accommodate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists and that the vehicular access on to Salthill Road – close to the entrance to Blackrock and adjacent to disabled parking spaces – would be a potential traffic hazard.

The developers stated their proposal involves the conservation and refurbishment of the old cottage in a manner that will be sympathetic to the historic nature of the building.

They also state that the new buildings that will be provided as part of the development will respect the sensitivity of both the views of the area and the traditional character of the restored cottage.

It is proposed that the new building for the café/restaurant will have a low visual impact, but will provide views over the Promenade, Blackrock diving board, Galway Bay and the Clare Hills.

A second low building provides for a bicycle repair and rental premises while a revised proposal excludes all car parking and vehicular access.

The developers say that the revision fully incorporates the City Council’s greenway proposal. They hope that the bike facility will be used as a mid-point or starting point for users of the greenway and Promenade.

“The project allows for a sustainable rejuvenation of this derelict eyesore with an attractive restoration of the cottage to its former glory while offering a much-needed facility ancillary to the primary facilities and amenity of the area,” it is stated in the appeal.

A decision from the Planning Appeals Board is due around the middle of August.