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‘More time needed’ to build Galway student housing scheme


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

‘More time needed’ to build Galway student housing scheme ‘More time needed’ to build Galway student housing scheme

The investment fund behind plans for a €25 million student accommodation development at Galway Docks has told the City Council it needs more time to build the scheme.

The project had stalled because of a legal row over land ownership. This has since been resolved.

Planning permission for the development of 345 en suite bedrooms on the three-quarter acre site adjacent to the Presbyterian Church at Victoria Place is due to expire in December – as a general rule, permissions are for a period of five years unless otherwise specified by the local authority or An Bord Pleanála.

Queen Street Investments Ltd – which was formed by Elkstone Capital Partners and took ownership of the development last August – told Galway City Council last week that it needs an extra three years to complete the development.

“It should be noted that it has not been possible to implement the subject permission until this year, having regard to a civil legal case related to the site which has now been resolved,” the company said.

It told city planners that the site had been cleared and 90% of piling works had been completed, while work on establishing ground beams was “well advanced”.

Construction work, as per the tender agreed with the contractor, was due for completion in January 2026, the company said, while quantity surveyors acting on its behalf said that by the time the existing planning permission expires on December 9, the expenditure on site “will be in the region of 12-15% of the total construction value”.

However, according to a construction management plan included with the latest application, the intended completion date for the contract is August 15, 2025.

The Council is due to make a decision next month on the application for an Extension of Duration.

The proposed name for the development is Queen Street Place or Plás Shráid na Banríona.

In the scheme, Block 1 will be seven storeys over ground floor and accommodate 158 bedrooms and Block 2 will be eight storeys over ground floor and accommodate 187 bedrooms. There will be 175 bicycle parking spaces and no carparking.

Five years ago, developer Gerry Barrett of Bonham Dock Ltd was given the go-ahead for the student development on the land which was then owned by British technology entrepreneurs Shukri Shammas and Tareq Naqib of Summix.

Planners attached a series of conditions to the permission, including a stipulation that the development must only be used for student accommodation during the academic year, and student or tourist accommodation only during the academic holiday periods.

It cannot be used for permanent residential accommodation, as a hotel, hostel, apart-hotel or similar use without a prior grant of permission from the Council.

An oral hearing by An Bórd Pleanála was subsequently told how an area marked in the plans as a public right-of-way to the development was not in the ownership of Galway City Council and in fact has been a parking area for VP Motors on Queen Street for almost 50 years.

Despite claims from the Council that they owned the small plot of land, owner of VP Motors, Michael O’Boyle, said the local authority had no claim over it.

The piece of land that was under dispute was integral to the student development proceeding. It would also be important as a public right of way for plans to redevelop Ceannt Station.

In May 2019, Summix pursued the matter through the courts, and a resolution to the dispute was reached in March 2022 – this is the delay referred to by Queen Street Developments, which has since taken ownership of the site.

VP Motors consented to an order being made in open court, at the second day of the trial at Galway Circuit Court, to vacate the property.

They had claimed adverse possession of the land, and that they had been using it since 1969.

But legal representatives for Summix argued that they did not exclusively occupy the site and it was not exclusively in their possession, and so they did not have adverse possession; and that it was subject to a public right-of-way and public footpath and that you cannot claim adverse possession on a public right-of-way. The consent order, which both parties agreed to, directed VP Motors to vacate the site.

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