The owners of the Corrib Great Southern have been granted an extension of time to demolish the dilapidated hotel.
It was once one of the top locations for weddings and conferences in the West of Ireland – now the fixtures and fittings have been stripped, many of its windows smashed and it has been subjected to a series of arson attacks.
Planning permission for the demolition of the once landmark property was due to expire at the beginning of March.
However, the Comer Group and husband-and-wife team Padraic and Martina McHale from Clonbur sought an extra five years for the demolition plan.
Through their investment vehicles Welcorrib Ltd and Trigo Property Company Ltd, they told city planners that the inability to source funding for the demolition was beyond their control – they only purchased the premises in 2013 (for around €3.5m). It was previously owned by Gerry Barrett’s Edward Holdings, who paid around €30m for it in 2006.
“The inability to source funding for the [demolition] was beyond the control of the applicant and was a result of the decline in economic conditions. However, having regard to reducing costs and, hopefully, the ‘bottoming out’ of the economic recession, as well as the need to address the current condition of the former hotel building, our client is confident that the proposed [demolition] will achieve the required funding to implement in the coming years.
“The funding issue arose primarily as a function of the high costs associated with the proposed development and the poor state of the commercial sector during the financial crisis since 2008,” the application read.
Planners agreed to extend permission, but for two years rather than five.
“It is considered that a period of five years is very excessive, in terms of providing sufficient time to demolish the building, as granted in 2010,” Assistant Planner Peter Staunton said.
Last year, Galway City Council served notice on the owners of the building of their intention to add it to the Register of Derelict Sites. In a six-month period last year, there were four arson attacks there. The Comers appeared in 16th place in the recent Sunday Independent Rich List for 2015, with a wealth of €825m.
Padraic McHale owns McHale Engineering in Mayo with his brother Martin – the brothers appeared at Number 109 with an estimated wealth of €115m.
Council on standby for Storm Jorge flooding
Galway City Council crews will be on standby from Saturday afternoon as Storm Jorge is set to hit the West coast, bringing very strong winds, rain and potential for flooding.
The Council’s Severe Weather Assessment Team met today and will be holding meetings tomorrow and Saturday to monitor the weather forecast and put in place a plan to deal with any potential flooding or wind damage.
Storm Jorge – which was named by Spanish meteorological services and adopted by Met Éireann and the UK’s Met Office to avoid confusion – will see a Status Orange wind warning in place from 6am Saturday to 3am Sunday. A Status Yellow rain warning will be in place in Galway from midnight tonight until midnight Saturday.
The storm will bring southwest, veering west and later northwest winds with means speeds of 65-80km/h and gusts of 110-130km/h.
Rainfall accumulations of 20 to 30mm are expected and Met Éireann has warned of an increased risk of coastal flooding.
The City Council will have crews on standby from 2pm on Saturday and will close the two public carparks in Salthill if it is considered necessary.
Council staff under pressure from worsening flooding
A lack of local authority outdoor staff available to deal with the huge rainfall level over the past week has led to the closure of roads around County Galway, it was claimed this week.
At a meeting of Galway County Council on Monday, a senior local authority official admitted that staff have been ‘stretched’.
Rising water tables and heavy rainfall has resulted in road closures around the county, but according to the Council, there are no houses under threat at the moment.
Iarnród Éireann has also introduced bus transfers on the Galway-Limerick line because of rising water levels at Kiltartan.
The volume of rainfall resulted in road closures, while flooding on the N83 (the old N17) between Tuam and Galway resulted in three-mile tailbacks at Two Mile Ditch – journey times were more than two hours in some cases.
Cllr Joe Byrne told the Council meeting this week that there are not enough outdoor staff on the ground to keep the water tables at a level that would not require roads to be closed.
He was supported by Cllr Jim Cuddy, who said that workers with spades and shovels were required to keep the water tables under control and there was a need to increase outdoor staff at this time of year.
The Independent councillor said that he had heard of some people being stuck in traffic for three hours as they approached the city from the Headford Road and Tuam Road directions.
However, Council Director of Services for Infrastructure, Jim Cullen, said that all of the outdoor staff vacancies had been filled.
Mr Cullen explained that the number of outdoor staff employed by the Council was dependent on the roads budget made available to the local authority on an annual basis.
Council Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell explained that their staff had been stretched over recent days in what where very difficult conditions.
“Nobody has been found wanting. It is not easy,” Mr Mitchell admitted.
(Picture shows a generator being brought to a house at Cloonacauneen this week to help pump flood waters. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the flooding around the county (including photographs), see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
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Council pays €3m for land for social housing in Claregalway
Galway County Council has forked out almost €3 million – more than €400,000 per acre – for development land in Claregalway which it has earmarked for social and affordable housing.
At a local authority meeting this week, some councillors expressed disbelief at the amount paid by the Council for the 7.2 acres.
Local elected representatives expressed frustration and annoyance that they had not been made aware of the purchase until after the deal was done.
Director of Services for Housing, Michael Owens, told a meeting of the County Council on Monday that the lands had been acquired on the open market in the townland Droim na Gaoithe and this will be development for social and affordable housing. He said that a valuer had been engaged for this purpose.
An irate Cllr Jim Cuddy said that as the most local elected representative, he was not aware of the land acquisition. He said that he was not aware of when it was purchased or how much had been paid for it.
The Independent councillor said that the population increase experienced in Claregalway in recent years required the provision of a playground, while he added that there was an urgent need for additional cemetery space as there were just two plots remaining in the existing graveyard.
“It is crazy that more than €406,000 an acre was spent on land for a housing scheme [affordable housing] that doesn’t exist. The County Council would have serious questions to ask if this matter came before a Dáil Public Accounts Committee,” Cllr Cuddy said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of the paper here.