Controversial city centre homes plan gets green light

St Brendan's Avenue: residents say drug-dealing goes on openly.

Galway City Council has given the green light for the construction of 19 new homes in Woodquay, despite huge local opposition on the grounds the area is being “ghettoised” by students.

K King Construction Claregalway Ltd had sought permission to demolish numbers 33-35 St Brendan’s Avenue to make way for 19 maisonettes and apartments.

The plans involve:
■ 7 own door one-bed apartments
■ 3 own door two-bed apartments
■ 4 two-bed two-storey maisonettes
■ 1 three-bed two-storey maisonette and
■ 4 three-bed three-storey maisonettes in three blocks rising two, three and four storeys.
The plans also include bicycle parking, bin store and a shared public courtyard.

A total of 14 objections were received from locals on the grounds of anti-social behaviour due to the high level of students in the area already; lack of access for fire engines; lack of carparking; noise pollution and littering.

There was also an objection on the grounds that one of the properties to be demolished is more than 100 years old.

Planners approved the application and ordered that a development contribution of just over €148,000 be paid to the Council towards the cost of providing services; €40,000 towards the provision of public and sustainable transport facilities and an insurance bond be entered into or cash deposit provided to ensure footpaths, lighting and drains are satisfactorily completed.

In an objection, the Woodquay Residents’ Association said the imbalance of 21 home owners to 238 students/transient renters and anti-social behaviour is “forcing people out”.

A resident of Corrib Terrace said there would be unacceptable levels of rented/student accommodation, which is ruining the quality of life for the residential community, and that it would increase health and safety risks in the area due to lack of access for emergency services.

“The student population has been ghettoised into one segregated area within the Woodquay residential community now occupying one full half of St Brendan’s Avenue. The area has become the city centre’s most noted student hub, attracting students like magnets to the area during the student festive celebrations such as Donegal Tuesday and Rag Week.

“The noise, music, screaming and partying goes on for days and nights, and has become unbearable for residents. The litter, vomit, broken bottles, damage to cars and property is unbelievable.

“The residential community, whose priority is to preserve home and family values become compromised by a rented community whose priority is often to have fun, party and live economically.”

A former resident of St Brendan’s Avenue said he lived on the street for most of his life, growing up there as a child.

“I felt sad that eventually after years of putting up with anti-social behaviour, I felt I had no option but to leave my home and my neighbours and friends.”

In a separate objection, another resident wrote: “The years of anti-social behaviour has created a perception that this street is an ‘anything goes’ or ‘lawless’ are of Galway’s inner city. This has made the street susceptible to more sinister crimes. Public drug dealing (heroin) can be witnessed in daytime hours for the past two to three years.”