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D-Day looming on appeal against outdoor dining in Galway City


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

D-Day looming on appeal against outdoor dining in Galway City

From the Galway City Tribune – A decision by An Bord Pleanála on the legality of temporary street closures for hospitality in Galway City is due in the coming weeks.

Galway City Council this week made an order closing a number of roads in ‘the West’ area to traffic, which will open them up to the public for outdoor dining, festivals and events this summer.

It followed a statutory consultation, in which the public was invited to express their view.

The Council’s plan to re-introduce temporary street closures this summer in Woodquay has been delayed to allow further negotiation with local businesses, who are concerned about the impact.

Meanwhile, the overall plan to close roads to vehicular traffic is being tested.

Last May, a resident of Munster Avenue lodged an objection to the planning appeals board, arguing that Galway City Council did not follow proper procedure when it closed roads during Covid-19 lockdowns in 2021.

That challenge remains ‘live’.

Angela Casey of Munster Avenue submitted an appeal to An Bórd Pleanála arguing that the Council’s temporary closure of six roads (Small Crane, Ravens Terrace, Dominick Street Upper, William Street West, Forster Street and Woodquay) to facilitate outdoor dining was a “material change of use, is development and is not exempted development”.

Ms Casey, in the submission, said the street closures should have been carried out as a Part 8 Development under the Planning Act (one which must be voted on by councillors following a period of public consultation) or under the Event Licence provisions of the Planning and Development Act.

She argued that planning permission was required to close the roads again in 2022.

The streets were closed regardless, and An Bord Pleanála has still not reached a decision on the appeal.

A spokesperson for the Board told the Galway City Tribune this week that a decision was due soon.

“This case is with the inspector and will move to the Board soon for a decision,” she said.

The local authority has ploughed ahead with plans for street closures again this year, despite the appeal.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

In newspaper notices published last week, Patrick Greene, Director of Services for Roads and Transport, confirmed the local authority will close roads from Friday, April 28 to Sunday, October 1.

At Small Crane, from New Street West to William Street West, the closure is for 24-hours a day, all week. Mr Greene said the reason is to provide space for “outdoor dining, festivals and events”.

Closures on other streets ‘back the West’, will be nightly from 6pm-11pm.

This includes from Dominick Street Upper to William Street West (from Monroe’s to Bier House); from Small Crane to Munster Avenue (from Mona Lisa to Blue Note); and at Raven Terrace from Fairhill Road Upper to Father Griffin Road (outside Salt House).

It’s understood negotiations are ongoing with Woodquay businesses, and the Council has delayed a decision to close from Daly’s Place to Headford Road (on McGinn’s/Hughes bars side of road) for 24-hours per day, seven days per week.

Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab) said Woodquay may close for a shorter timeframe if agreement can be reached.

He said the overall plan was a good one for Galway, and it helped to spread tourists and revellers away from the busier Latin Quarter and Eyre Square, which made it easier to police and helped quieter areas of the city.

Ms Casey, in her appeal lodged last year, argued that the road closures constituted development and that Part 8 planning ‘may apply’ to it because she said that more than €126,000 must have been spent on it.

An Bord Pleanála was also asked to determine whether the street closures were an ‘event’, which had an audience of more than 5,000 people.

The City Council in its response to the appeal insisted the closures did not constitute an event and did not constitute development under the planning act.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath assured councillors that the local authority had followed proper procedure when it temporarily pedestrianised the streets.

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