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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council brands new PorterShed design “monotonous”

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Main image: the PorterShed proposal for the Connacht Tribune building, which Galway City Council has ordered to be redesigned.

Plans for the development of a technology ‘hub’ on Market Street have stalled after Galway City Council said the design of the building is “monotonous” and of insufficient quality for such a prominent location.

And the Department of Culture and Heritage has ordered that a programme of archaeological excavations must be carried out on the site, which currently houses the Connacht Tribune offices.

Last April, the company behind the PorterShed business incubation hub near Ceannt Station sought permission for the redevelopment of the Tribune building, including the addition of a lightweight floor over the existing two-storey building and a small extension to cater for a lift and stair core. The plans also involved will be a roof garden/decked area overhead.

There would be a partial demolition of a two-storey element to the side and rear of the building, which would be replaced by a new enlarged area over four floors. In total, it would create office space for around 220 people.

The Connacht Tribune building on Market Street. The company, which also publishes the Galway City Tribune, is moving to offices in Liosbán Business Park later this summer.

However, the City Council last week wrote to PorterShed, acknowledging that while the proposal was acceptable in principle, they wanted a redesign.

“Whilst noting that the existing building is of poor architectural quality, it is considered that the design/visual appearance of the proposed building does not provide the most suitable design resolution for such a prominent urban site, which is located within a sensitive historic environment, being located within the Galway City Core Architectural Conservation Area and in close proximity to the historic St Nicholas Church.

“Whilst it is acknowledged that the refurbishment/extension of the existing building is challenged in terms of meeting the needs of modern office accommodation, it is considered that the architectural quality of the building is not of a sufficient standard for such a prominent and sensitive site.

“It is considered that [the proposal] does no integrate appropriately with the existing streetscape, nor does it provide a positive contribution to the visual integrity of the area.

“This is largely due to the uniform, monotonous design of the building, which incorporates a palette of inappropriate external materials, such as steel cladding, brick cladding and render,” the Council said.

PorterShed must also hire an archaeologist to carry out a programme of excavations at locations on the site in consultation with the National Monuments Service. A written report must then be submitted to the Department of Culture and Heritage.

In a submission to the Council, the Bowling Green Residents’ Committee said that while it was informed by PorterShed earlier this year of the plans to redevelop the Tribune building, it was not aware of the plan to build another storey with a roof garden.

The residents said that while they do not object to the plans for the building, they want strict conditions enforced on any events which take place in the roof garden.

The Council acknowledged these concerns and asked PorterShed to comment on the matter.

“In the event the roof gardens are to be retained, a management plan shall be submitted, outlining the exact nature of use/operation of the roof garden, along with operating times,” the Council said.

The local authority noted that there will be a loss of parking spaces on the site and advised the applicant to address this issue, as a contribution to transportation infrastructure costs will be required.

Finally, the Council said the proposed signage is unacceptable and would have a negative impact on the streetscape, and asked that an alternative design should include bilingual signage.

The Connacht Tribune – which publishes the Galway City Tribune – sold the building on Market Street in 2018 and will be moving to new offices in Liosbán Business Park later this summer.

Meanwhile, a separate PorterShed planning application to redevelop a warehouse adjacent to Market Street carpark – creating 130 co-working desk spaces – has run into similar difficulties.

The Council has sought a redesign of the plans as the proposal “does not integrate with the fabric of the existing urban environment . . . largely due to a mix of inappropriate external materials”.

Test excavations must also be carried out at this site by a qualified archaeologist and the same concerns were raised about signage.

The warehouse building on Market Street which forms part of a second PorterShed proposal.

“Pedestrian access through the commercial carpark places pedestrians at risk,” the Council said, asking for the proposal to be revised.

The local authority has also asked the applicant to address the fact that cycle parking spaces are unsheltered under the existing proposals.

The proposal involves a change of use of the 1950s two-storey warehouse and a new two-storey extension with modern design – it will house desk space for 130 people.

The Bowling Green residents, in a separate submission to the Council, said they welcomed the application because the site had been left in an unsightly and neglected state for many years.

However, they asked that a bin storage be brought within a gated area to avoid it becoming a “probable focus for antisocial behaviour”.

The Council agreed and has sought for this to be addressed also. PorterShed now has until the middle of January to submit the revised proposals or the applications will be deemed to be withdrawn.

Planning permission already exists on the site of the former Tribune printworks for a 10,500 square foot indoor artisan food market with around 30 food stalls, as well as beer and wine vendors, similar to the Milk Market in Limerick and the English Market in Cork. The developer intends to proceed with this in tandem with the PorterShed plan.

(Main image: the PorterShed proposal for the Connacht Tribune building, which Galway City Council has ordered to be redesigned).

CITY TRIBUNE

Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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