Planners order removal of canal-side house entrance

Cllr Pádraig Conneely at the unauthorised development on the Eglington Canal tow path. Photo: Darius Ivan

City planners have refused permission for the retention of a controversial rear entrance to a house which was created alongside the Eglinton Canal.

The entrance – knocked into a wall which is a Protected Structure – would have an unacceptable impact on the canal, planners said, adding that the homeowner had failed to show he had sufficient legal interest to carry out the work.

The property owner, John O’Brien, of 40 Henry Street, applied for permission in May to retain the new access door/opening created on the rear boundary wall fronting onto the canal.

The application came following a warning letter issued by Galway City Council the previous month requiring him to “immediately remove the unauthorised opening/gate located in the wall at the rear of the property and restore the wall to its original condition prior to the unauthorised works taking place.”

In their ruling on the planning application, planners said: “The retention of the opening would have an unacceptable impact on the setting of the canal and this wall of heritage value and would be contrary to policies of the Galway City Development plan.

“The applicant has failed to submit adequate information by a qualified conservation professional, which would quantify these impacts or enable an adequate assessment to be made of the impact on the Protected Structure.

“The opening has been installed in the rear boundary wall with the towpath to the Eglinton Canal, which is at least partially in the ownership of the Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees.

“The applicant has failed to provide evidence of sufficient legal interest or consent to have carried out these works,” the decision reads.

The gateway was constructed without planning permission last March, and a complaint was made to the Council by city councillor Padraig Conneely, who is also a member of the Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees.

However, it was more than a month later before the Council issued the warning letter to the homeowner.

Cllr Conneely said: “This is an unauthorised opening onto the canal, and I’m calling on the Council to pursue the matter and ensure the wall is rebuilt properly.

“This should never have happened in the first place, it could have been prevented if the Council acted when I reported that work was taking place there . . . the stone was still there,” he said.

Mr O’Brien has until August 14 to appeal the Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála.