Oral hearing told €100m Docks plan a “game-changer” for Galway

How it will look: the proposed urban quarter from the Queen Street side.

Galway City Council – The planned Bonham Quay development at the Docks will be a catalyst for future economic growth in the city, an oral hearing was told this week – as An Bord Pleanála considers the decision of Galway City Council to grant planning permission for Gerry Barrett’s €100 million office development.

Having been granted permission in October last year, six appeals were made to An Bord Pleanála – the higher planning authority must now decide if the project can proceed.

Chartered Planning Consultant for Bonham Dock Ltd, Stephen Little, said the development was a viable project that would rejuvenate the one area of the city still “crying out to be developed”.

“It’s a game-changer for Galway,” Mr Little told An Bord Pleanála Planning Inspector Bríd Maxwell.

“It will provide various ground floor activities including shops, cafés and restaurants generating footfall and bring people to the waterfront – and it will deliver and architecturally designed building for Galway.”

Four of the six appellants at the hearing cited serious concerns that the proposed development failed to meet the requirement for residential property – as set out in Galway City Development Plan 2017-2023.

The City Development Plan states that, in certain areas including the inner harbour, “a higher residential content of 30 per cent will be required”.

As the application for Bonham Quay includes four office blocks and no residential buildings, appellant Tom Conroy contested that this was in contravention of the Development Plan.

Speaking on Mr Conroy’s behalf, engineer Peter Butler, said this would be a poor precedent to set.

“The only rationale for building offices [in lieu of residential units] is financial return; that is not good urban design,” said Mr Butler.

Mr Little said the framework plan for the site had identified a more suitable adjacent site for residential use – on former CIE lands.

This, he said, was totally in keeping with the provisions as set down by the City Development Plan.
For full coverage of the three-day oral hearing, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.