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CITY TRIBUNE

Planners brand Bohermore hotel design ‘overbearing’

Enda Cunningham

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City planners have told the developer behind plans for a new 140-bedroom hotel in Bohermore to go back to the drawing board after branding the design “overbearing” and saying it would have a negative impact on its surrounds.

The city’s Chief Fire Officer has also raised concerns in relation to health and safety.

In February, Salthill-based Georgina O’Mahony of Highgate Properties sought permission to demolish the former Shannon Dry Cleaners and adjoining properties to make way for the development.

It was to include a two, three and four-storey hotel over lower ground floor level in two blocks fronting onto Bohermore and the rear of the site.

The plans included 139 bedrooms, reception area, dining area, two bars and office space, while the disused Galway-Clifden railway tunnel – which runs under part of the site – was to be used as a lounge with overhead café/bar.

However, planners have ordered a redesign of the proposals as they would contravene the City Development Plan standards for plot ratios in an area where a transition is being made from city centre to an established residential area.

“The applicant is asked to revisit the overall scale and design concept and submit revised proposals.

“It is considered that the design/visual appearance of the proposed hotel, with particular regard to the front and side (north) elevations, gives rise to an overbearing expression onto the streetscape and establishes little relationship with the surrounding urban fabric, greatly detracting from the character of the area.

“It is considered that the use of architectural features, such as expansive blank gables . . . provide for a negative impact on visual amenity in the context of the character of the street and the setting of the protected structure located at No. 86 Bohermore,” planners said.

They also asked the developer to re-visit the size of the opening for vehicular access to see if it could be reduced to lessen the negative impact onto the street.

Planners also sought a Mobility Management Plan as there was a minimal amount of parking proposed, and to explain how this would work in the context of patrons, staff, servicing and persons who are disabled.

Mrs O’Mahony has also been ordered to liaise with the Chief Fire Officer, who raised concerns in relation to public health and safety.

She was also asked to clarify if any additional consent is needed from Irish Rail to carry out work on the former railway tunnel.

The application has received the backing of Eugene Keville, the owner of the nearby Western Hotel, who said: “I feel it will be a fantastic development for the whole area and something that is very much needed to help enhance commerce in the area, as well as providing quality accommodation for tourists and a large number of jobs.”

Publican Peadar Tonery said Bohermore is in desperate need of such a development.

“With the closure of eleven businesses in our area, Bohermore is in desperate need of this. I speak to many local people on a daily basis and the level of support from them is huge,” Mr Tonery said in his submission to planners.

Breda Crowe of Crowe’s Bar supported what she termed as the regeneration and revitalisation of the area, and said the site is more suitable as a hotel than its previous industrial use.

SIPTU, which has carpark access between 66 and 64 Hill objected to the application on the grounds that only 11 parking spaces for the hotel would negatively affect their premises, and cause considerable delays to staff and the public visiting their premises.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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