Galway City Council rejects plans for 91-bedroom extension to hotel
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Author: Declan Tierney
~ 5 minutes read
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Planning permission has been refused for a second time for the extension of a city centre hotel in Galway.
It was proposed to carry out a 109-bedroom extension to the Victoria Hotel off Eyre Square, along with a new reception, lobby, bars and an events area at ground and first floor level.
Plans were also sought to provide a bar/lounge and terrace at 10th floor level.
However, there was strong opposition from neighbouring CIÉ which stated that the applicant did not have the requisite property interests needed to carry out the proposed development.
The semi-state transport company stated that the application assumed a shared access arrangement through a low yard area to the rear of proposed hotel extension.
According to the planning file, access onto the lands owned by CIÉ would be required in order to carry out the proposed extension. CIÉ said it was not consulted in relation to the application.
It was stated that the low yard area is owned by CIÉ – and it could be required in connection for the future operation of and access to Ceannt Station, which is set for a major redevelopment.
“The applicant has no rights of access into this area,” CIÉ stated in a submission to the planning application.
The company says that since the initial application was lodged, the applicant has installed a boundary wall between its property and that of CIÉ.
However, the transport group objects to the fact that an opening has been created in the wall.
“CIÉ is not agreeable to any opening in the boundary wall and is unaware of any planning application relative to same.
“Despite writing to the applicant requesting the closure of this opening, no response has been received or action taken,” added CIÉ in its submission.
Applicant Richard Byrne said that he had spent the past 20 years putting together a property portfolio which has culminated in a plan for an 11-storey extension to the Victoria Hotel.
The hotelier told Galway City Council in his application that the premises needs to be “a statement in design and functionality with smart bars and dining areas, preferably with rooftop views” to meet visitor demand.
He explained that since 1999, he had been acquiring adjacent premises, including the old stone warehouse once used by Coen’s General Merchants, Victoria House (formerly Rooney Auctioneers’ premises), the Archway Restaurant and Francis’s Stables.
After concerns were expressed by City Hall about the extent of the plans, the proposal was scaled back to 8-9 storeys (over basement) with 91 bedrooms and a bar/lounge on the eighth floor.
This would reduce the overall height of the building by six to eight metres and the overall size of the extension by 563 square metres to 6,567 sq m.
Heritage and planning watchdog group An Taisce made a submission at that point and said there was no justification for additional bedrooms in the city centre.
“Galway city centre is being hollowed out by hotels, hostels, restaurants, cafés, bars etc. There is an ever-decreasing number of people living in the city.
“While we see offices being built in the city centre, no homes are being provided in the city centre for those that work in those offices, hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, shops and schools, etc,” the submission reads.
An Taisce said there was a total of 960 existing hotel rooms within 650 metres of Ceannt Station in the likes of the Hardiman, Galmont, Eyre Square Hotel, Park House, HYDE, Skeff, Imperial, Western, Harbour and Dean hotels. A further 252 rooms have been given planning permission at the Hardiman, Skeff and at Augustine Hill, but have not yet been built.
The organisation noted that Dublin City Council refused permission for a number of hotels in 2023 – including at Portobello, the Liberties, Temple Bar and Capel Street – because it “would exacerbate the existing over-concentration of hotel development in the area”.
In its refusal, the Council said it was not satisfied that the development would not have a significant effect on the environment, particularly the likes of the Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation (SAC); Galway Bay Complex SAC and Inner Galway Bay Special Protection Area “via the surface water drainage network”.
The applicant also failed to address the impact which the development would have on strategic transport projects “and this key transport route, which is not amenable to road closures or lane closures”.
The Council said the development would be prejudicial to public safety because of the reliance on the use of the public roadway for access, and on adjoining property owners – yet the applicant had not demonstrated that other owners would be willing or able to provide the necessary facilities.
The local authority concluded: “The proposal does not include a Construction Environmental Management Plan of best practices construction methods and would result in a considerable increase in construction traffic to and from the proposed construction site and this would give rise to conditions which would be likely to prejudice the amenities of neighbouring residential properties by reason of noise, inconvenience and general disturbance.”
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