Council raises series of concerns over indoor market plans

An artist's impression of the BBQ area in the proposed indoor market

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.