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Galway City Council turns down leisure centre on driving range site


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway City Council turns down leisure centre on driving range site Galway City Council turns down leisure centre on driving range site

From the Galway City Tribune – The Council has refused planning permission for a gym and leisure centre at the former golf driving range in Salthill – part of which is already up and running.

Clearwater Ventures Ltd, which is owned by Cork-based McHugh Property Holdings and Francis O’Flaherty from Newcastle, had sought permission for the retention of the change of use of part of the former driving range to a leisure and wellness facility; the enclosure of two bays including the installation of windows; upgrade of the driving range building; erection of an external sauna and decking and the erection of signage.

The planning application also sought permission for the enclosure of the remaining bays and to develop a new café/retail area within the existing building.

“The development as carried out and as further proposed is entirely appropriate development in this location. It utilizes an existing building which has been vacant for a number of years with no possibility for the previous driving range use to return.

“The works which have been carried out and are to be carried out are a vast improvement on the state of the site prior and reduces the vacancy rate within Salthill.

“The site is ideally located close to residential areas and at the end of the Salthill Prom, making it highly accessible for alternative modes of transport to the car,” the application reads.

The plans showed yoga, crossfit, pilates and spinning studios, as well as gym, showers and a café area.

However, the City Council has rejected the application, ruling that it would not be compatible with the RA (recreation and amenity) land zoning.

Liam Blake, Senior Executive Planner, noted that the driving range buildings had facilitated the use of the lands for outdoor recreation – golf practice – and were ancillary to the primary outdoor activity.

However, the current application was effectively seeking permission for a gym/leisure centre, therefore they were “not related to and secondary to the primary use of the land for outdoor recreation” as required under the land zoning.

In its ruling, the Council said that if permission was granted, it would set a negative precedent of similar non-conforming uses on RA zoned lands.

The decision added that the applicant “failed to demonstrate that the operation of the proposed development, including the intensity of traffic movements, will not prejudice the objective of a greenway/cycle network” which had been included in the City Development Plan.

Galway Cycling Campaign made a submission on the plan which raised concerns about sightlines at the entrance to the site which would generate a risk to vulnerable road users.

The campaign group added that a Road Safety Audit should be carried out for the site, adding that there was no provision for cycle parking in the plans.

Part of the site opened last year offering yoga and other fitness activities – this was the element that retention permission was sought for.

Clearwater Ventures also owns the adjacent Spinnaker site, on which they hope to develop residential units.

McHugh Property Holdings – owned by Brian McHugh of EnviroBead – is currently redeveloping the derelict Blackrock cottage into a bike rental shop and café and separately, 83 social housing units in Gaelcarrig Park.

Mr McHugh is also part-owner of Strategic Land Investments Ltd, which has plans to develop the new ‘City North’ village between the Tuam Road, Parkmore and Ballybrit.

Francis O’Flaherty is Chief Operating Officer for Abbeyknockmoy businessman Declan Ganley’s Rivada Networks.

(Photo: The former driving range in Salthill, with some of the bays to the right already converted).

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 16. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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