The City Council has approved an extra five years to build the new €200 million ‘Liffey Valley’ development on the site of Galway Shopping Centre.
The developers allayed fears from planners over potential flooding – claiming there is a 1 in 1,000 chance in each year of flooding, given the existing defences in the area.
Lindat Ltd – part of Pat Doherty’s Harcourt Developments – had sought an extra five years to build the project, blaming the economic crisis for a lack of funding to date.
However, planners raised concerns about flooding based on a draft Western CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management) area report published in February, which identified the site as having a ‘high probability of flooding’ because of its vicinity to the River Corrib and Terryland River.
A full Flood Risk Assessment was subsequently submitted to planners, pointing out there was a 1 in 1,000 chance of the site flooding.
Approving the application for an extra five years on the life of the planning permission (until April 2020), the Council’s Senior Executive Planner, Liam Blake, said: “Having regard to the fact that the entire site is not a green field site, but is an existing shopping centre which has been in place for over 40 years, and the fact that all residential accommodation units are located above the ground floor level, and that clear evacuation, refuge and escape routes have been identified, the applicants analysis of the potential flood risks is considered reasonable and acceptable.
“It is therefore considered that the development will not give rise to an unacceptable flood risk.”
Mr Blake said the Council would not normally grant a five-year extension of time for apartments, it would in this case.
“Given the current volatility in residential market conditions and considering the unpredictable demand for specific house types, which currently shows little or no demand for apartments, the Council would normally consider the application to extend the period for a residential development by five years is excessive, given that the development contains 84 apartments and would normally reduce this to three years.
“However, in this instance, the residential element of 84 apartments is a subsidiary part of an overall mixed commercial/retail and leisure development, where conventional housing would not be appropriate or acceptable. In this regard, a five-year extension is acceptable,” he said.
The application involves the demolition of the existing centre, and the construction of a new 53,000 square metre development in four blocks ranging from six to eight storeys around a new public street.
It will include four anchor units (likely to see a major fashion name and Marks & Spencer join Tesco and Penneys); 90 smaller retail units in an internal mall, as well as cafés and restaurants; 84 apartments, as well as public and private amenity areas; municipal art gallery and music centre, as well as a theatre and more than 1,450 parking spaces.