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

An impression of the new hotel proposals with the existing Victoria Hotel to the right.

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.