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CITY TRIBUNE

Council raises series of concerns over indoor market plans

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Plans for an indoor artisan food market in the city centre have hit a stumbling block after Galway City Council warned it would not meet fire safety requirements.

A planning application to use the former Connacht Tribune printworks on Market Street as an indoor market was made last October.

However, the Council has now sought further information on a series of issues, including the future of the entire site, parking, the sale of alcohol and the number of people that would be permitted on site.

The entire Connacht Tribune building and site was sold last year to property developer Michael Maye. The newspaper business remains a tenant in the building until relocation plans are finalised.

Ortamount Ltd – part of the Mr Maye’s Headspace Group – wants to turn the former printworks into a 10,500 square foot food hall with up to 35 operators.

The company has been told by the Council that the Fire Authority said the proposals would not comply with current fire safety requirements for such a development, with particular regards to means of escape.

The applicants have been told to meet with the Fire Authority to make necessary revisions.

The Council has also sought a clear outline of the floor plan and the extent of the area which will be dedicated for the sale or consumption of alcohol.

City planners also said that 16 parking spaces will be lost on the Tribune site, and unless spaces are reserved for use, free of charge, in Market Street carpark (also owned by Mr Maye), that the carpark cannot be used to cater for the loss of the existing spaces on the Tribune site or for carparking demands of the proposed development.

“The applicant will be asked to comment on this matter and is advised as per the Galway City Development Plan, within the city centre area, where developments do not provide car parking, a transportation contribution will be levied in lieu of on-site parking spaces.

“The applicant is asked to outline the maximum numbers of persons permitted on site, as permitted under fire safety regulations. This will allow for an informed assessment with regard to the carparking demands,” the Council said.

Planners also said the development would result in the subdivision of the site into two separate commercial entities and asked the applicants to comment whether the market could potentially prejudice the future occupancy and functionality of the main Connacht Tribune building “particularly considering that both existing vehicle access points and the existing car parking spaces are to be removed”.

The Council has ordered a redesign and reduction of proposed signage over the two existing gates on either side of the Connacht Tribune building as they pose significant concerns with regards to the potential negative visual impact on the building, which is a Protected Structure.

The developers have also been asked for confirmation that the market will not be in use past 10pm and on use of amplified music, as this would have the potential to negatively impact on the residents of Bowling Green.

The applicants have until the middle of June to submit the revisions and further information to the Council, or the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.

When the planning application was lodged, the company had planned to have the new food hall up and running by March.

It has already received the backing of a number of city business representative groups – including Galway Chamber, the Galway City Business Association, the Latin Quarter, Woodquay Traders and Galway Food Festival – who said it would enhance the city’s reputation as a food destination.

Michelin star chef JP McMahon has also backed the plan on behalf of Food on the Edge.

The applicants compared their plans to Limerick’s Milk Market, Cork’s English Market and Dublin’s George’s Street arcade.

Mr Maye plans to eventually build a 208-bed hotel and food market on the site, with an overall investment of around €60m. This will form part of an entirely separate planning application in the future.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cost of new Emergency Dept in Galway jumps to half a billion euro

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The projected cost for the new Emergency Department and maternity unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) has now reached half a billion euro.

And the bureaucracy involved in getting it off the ground means its expected completion has been pushed back until 2027 at the earliest.

The project – described by the head of the Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, as the single largest infrastructural health project ever to be built in the West – still has some major hurdles to overcome before a shovel is put into the ground.

In an update at this week’s HSE Regional Health Forum West meeting, Councillor Declan McDonnell (IND) remarked that 2026 was the predicted opening for the new facility, yet the planning application had not even been submitted.

“Could it be ten more years?” he asked.

Councillors heard that a new Public Spending Code was brought in for projects predicted to cost over €100 million after the Saolta group had submitted a cost benefit analysis review which they were required to do under the old rules.

As a result of the change, management had to belatedly prepare a Strategic Assessment Report and a ‘Preliminary Business Case’ report. The first had been submitted to the national HSE last month and the latter was almost ready to send to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Assistant National Director of Estates in the HSE, Joe Hoare, said the final figure for the project would be “four to five times the €100m figure”.

(Photo: The temporary Emergency Dept under construction at the moment at UHG)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Street closures for outdoor dining in Galway challenged to An Bord Pleanála

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – An appeal has been lodged with An Bórd Pleanála challenging the legitimacy of road closures to facilitate hospitality businesses in Galway City this summer.

Galway City Council, following on from last year’s trial of on-street hospitality, introduced street closures again this year.

It is part of the Council’s ‘outdoor living’ strategy to encourage more footfall and to boost businesses – in particular pubs and restaurants – in the city centre.

The local authority has closed Small Crane, Raven Terrace, Dominick Street Upper, William Street West, Forster Street and Woodquay during certain hours in the evenings from May to October.

But a resident of Munster Avenue has referred the closures to An Bórd Pleanála and asked that it determine whether the closures constitute development and whether or not it is ‘exempted development’.

Exempted development does not require planning permission. If the Board finds that the closures are development and that the development was not ‘exempted’, then the street closures and the process they were introduced under, could be undermined and deemed to be contrary to planning laws.

An Bórd Pleanála confirmed the case had been referred to it for adjudication but it said it does not comment on ‘live’ cases. It is due to make a decision by September. The appellant who referred the case could not be contacted for comment.

Johnny Duggan, owner of Taylor’s Bar, member of West End Traders’, and chair of the Galway City Vintners’ Association, insisted the street closures were exempted development did not require planning permission and it was all above board.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Two tonnes of waste in canal – ‘the cost of outdoor living’ in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two tonnes of waste removed from the Claddagh Basin and Eglinton Canal during a clean-up last weekend is the cost of the pandemic transition to outdoor lifestyles, according to a Galway City Council official.

“Unfortunately, there has been an environmental cost to the outdoor lifestyles adopted during the pandemic. From the recent clean-up, we took out a huge amount of pint glasses, beer and wine bottles, bikes and even shopping trolleys. We all need to do our bit and use the bins provided in the city and not throw anything into the watercourses,” said Tiarnan McCusker, Environmental Awareness Officer for the Council.

Mr McCusker said that during the pandemic there was a “huge increase” in litter across the country, including in Galway City.

In response to this, the Council installed more bins in locations across the city and increased the size of the bins.

Mr McCusker attributed the amount of waste to the groups gathering outdoors during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were out drinking and congregating in the canals and generating a huge amount of waste by throwing things into them,” he said.

Councillor Niall McNelis – who is also chair of the Galway Tidy Towns Committee – said: “We want to make sure that these areas are well cleaned, and it’s not just a matter of the magicians that come in every morning and clean up the city when were all asleep in bed and clean up the mess from the night before. It takes a speciality to go into the water to clean up what they’ve done, and they’ve done an amazing job.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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