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€11m hotel plan shot down for ‘poor architectural quality’

Enda Cunningham



Planners have rejected a proposal to build a new 84-bedroom hotel at Victoria Place in the city centre, describing the design as “poor architectural quality” and failing to comply with fire safety regulations.

Galway hotelier Ricky Byrne has sought permission for the €11 million scheme, involving the demolition of the former snooker club beside his Victoria Hotel to make way for a hotel with six floors of accommodation over ground floor and basement.

The plans included a total of 215 bed spaces in 84 en suite rooms, as well as a lobby, kitchen, dining hall and café on the ground floor, with basement storage.

However, planners have rejected the application outright, ruling it would have a negative impact on the area.

“The overall poor design, including the scale, massing, height and low-quality visual appearance of the proposed hotel, the resultant expression onto the city centre streetscape, the unacceptable interface with the neighbouring protected structures, the adjacent Eyre Square and City Centre Architectural Conservation Areas and the lack of an acceptable form of infill into the streetscape context all contribute to the unacceptable nature of the development.

“This is exacerbated by the use of poor quality architectural forms, including a highly visual, dominant, triple mansard roof, an expansive blank side elevation, along with use of poor quality architectural materials, providing for an unacceptable design resolution for the site.

“The proposal would in its totality result in a negative impact on the unique character and visual amenity of the city centre area,” planners said.

They added that the scheme would be larger than what would normally be acceptable on such a sized site, and an exception could not be considered “as the proposal is of such poor architectural quality”.

The hotel is within the Galway City Zone of Archaeological Potential, and no information was submitted on the development’s potential impact on this.

The Council added that Mr Byrne failed to submit any information with regard to traffic and pedestrian safety, and in the absence of this, it was not possible to ensure a hazard would not result.

It was also pointed out that the development does not comply with fire safety regulations with regards to means of escape, access for firefighting and ventilation, therefore giving rise to concerns of public health and safety.

According to Mr Byrne – who also operates the Salthill Hotel and Eyre Square Hotel – the development would have represented an investment of around €10.7 million and had the potential to create more than 100 full and part-time jobs.


Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara



Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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