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Plan for massive student complex in shopping centre carpark billed as ‘ludicrous’


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Plan for massive student complex in shopping centre carpark billed as ‘ludicrous’

From the Galway City Tribune – A retail giant, a former mayor, a residents association and a cycling group have all lodged concerns about plans for a new seven-storey student flats development in the Westside.

An Bord Pleanála has delayed its decision on whether to grant permission to Westside Shopping Centre Limited to build the 240 bed-space complex in the car park of the Westside Shopping Centre fronting on to Seamus Quirke Road.

The decision was due on August 2, but a spokesperson for the planning appeals board confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that “a decision will be made as soon as is practicable”.

The Tribune has learned, however, that six public submissions were lodged with An Bord Pleanála about the plans, which were submitted as a Strategic Housing Development that bypasses the regular planning system.

Dunnes Stores, anchor tenant at Westside Shopping Centre, objected to the proposal on several grounds, including losing car space would impact on its viability.

“The proposed development will have a profound impact on the operation and viability of the Dunnes store in terms of the removal of a large number of parking spaces, adjacent to their store, on which the store relies to trade,” said consultants BMA Planning on behalf of Dunnes.

The Dunnes’ submission said the applicant underestimated the amount of car spaces that would be lost. BMA Planning said the proposed development will result in the loss of 94 car parking spaces, or 34% of the total available parking. It said that 52 spaces included by the applicant are not currently available to the public and are for staff use only.

Dunnes argued the parking loss “will have a negative impact on the vitality and viability of the district centre”, and will reduce the ratio of parking to less than its city centre counterparts.

Dunnes also expressed “grave concerns” about the lack of parking provided for the student residents of the new flats.

This will result in “competition for parking” between customers, patients of the nearby medical centre, and students.

Dunnes also said that the planned development requires an Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out.

Claremont Park Residents Association said it would “impact extremely negatively” on the area.

Its submission said that seven-storeys was “completely out of character” with Westside where the tallest building is three-storeys.

Residents said they were concerned with the potential for additional noise and anti-social behaviour associated with student accommodation, which would be used for tourists in summer.

Residents said they feared that students living in the proposed building would “create nuisance” by parking in nearby estates; and they feared the implications, if the loss of parking space damaged the viability of Dunnes Stores and other shops at the centre.

Former Mayor of Galway, City Councillor Mike Cubbard (Ind), who was born and reared in Westside, said that the building will “negatively impact” the area.

He said he spoke for the “majority of my community”, in his submission where he termed the seven-storey plans “ludicrous”.

As well as noise, issues with short-term letting in established residential areas, and the scale of the proposal, Cllr Cubbard said he had “huge concerns” about the spill over of parking in nearby Camillaun, John Coogan, Gaelcarrig, Innishannagh, Claremont, and Corrach Buí housing estates.

Galway Cycling Campaign said it recognised the need for student accommodation, and was generally in favour of development at this location. It also said it supported high density residential developments if “appropriately serviced and accommodated”.

However, it said there were “aspects of the development as currently proposed which will reduce the attractiveness of cycling as a mode of transport for future residents”.

It included a number of recommendations to make cycling more attractive to future residents.

It concluded if the modifications were not made, “we do not believe that the proposed development is consistent with national, regional and local policy, and proper planning and sustainable development”.

The Irish Aviation Authority said the applicant should have to engage with the HSE over the potential impact the proposed development would have on the helicopter landings at University Hospital Galway.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, August 26. 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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