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Heritage Officer hits out at ‘ugly’ watersports centre


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Heritage Officer hits out at ‘ugly’ watersports centre Heritage Officer hits out at ‘ugly’ watersports centre

The city’s Heritage Officer has said that divers must search for archaeological finds along the bed of the River Corrib in the vicinity of a state-of-the-art new watersports centre being planned by University of Galway.

Last week, the university was given the green light for the plans – which include a state-of-the-art gym – on the banks of the Corrib.

However, Heritage Officer, Dr Jim Higgins said that the entire site must be archaeologically monitored and divers must search the river bed because of the large volume of finds in the 1970s and 80s.

Dr Higgins described the visual impact of the development as “too much” and said the building looks “ugly, industrial and out of scale and character with the environment”.

Last year, UG submitted a planning application to Galway City Council last year for permission to build the new facility on a 1.4-acre site on what is known as the ‘Engineering Green’ adjacent to the Alice Perry Engineering building.

The development will include a clubhouse with reception and café, gym, ergometer training room, communications room, offices, equipment storage facilities, changing rooms and bathrooms, mother and baby room and drying room.

The proposal includes plans for a boatshed, two floating pontoons on the bank of the Corrib and a pedestrian and cyclist greenway along the Corrib linking to an existing footpath.

There will be no carparking spaces – all parking will be at the UG Park & Ride carpark and there will be a boat drop-off point alongside the building. There are 30 bicycle spaces included in the plan.

“The proposed Watersports Centre will cater for the needs of the university watersports clubs of rowing, kayak and sub aqua. The new centre is designed to provide state-of-the-art training facilities for watersports that NUI Galway has excelled at both at national and international level.

“This centre will build on these performances such as the most recent success of an Olympic medal at the Tokyo Games.

“The gym will be utilised by NUIG sports teams, including Gaelic sports codes, soccer, rugby, athletics, rowing, swimming, hocket, boxing and the Sports Scholarship Programme.

“The location of the new proposed centre will move watersports-based clubs away from the current location beside the weir. The new location is more secure and will enhance the safety of university river users,” the application reads.

Dr Jim Higgins said the entire site must be archaeologically monitored under licence and metal detected.

“In addition, the entire river bed in the vicinity of the development should be examined by diving under archaeological licence and metal detected under licence as well because of the large number of archaeological finds, boats, etc. found in the river between Woodquay and the tail of the woods at Menlo, by divers in the 1970s and 1980s. The proposed slipways and the entire width of the river must be dived and reported upon,” Dr Higgins said in his recommendations to the Council.

However, in its decision to approve the plans, the Council ordered that while a qualified archaeologist must monitor all groundworks, there was no order in relation to assessing the river bed.

Following separate concerns raised by the Council about the design of the boat shed, the architects agreed to reduce the height of the roof by one metre.



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