Planners have refused to allow a new restaurant in Salthill to retain its basement dining and kitchen area, ruling it is as ‘substandard unauthorised development’.
Husband-and-wife team Patrick O’Malley and Lisa Creaven of the Fisherman Seafood Bar and Grill on the Promenade had sought permission to retain an existing food preparation and a dining area in the basement.
They told planners that the basement is the ‘key to the survival’ of the restaurant and they were unaware that planning was so restrictive on the unit on the Rockland Court development.
They pointed out they have invested heavily in the project – including a €40,000 air extraction system.
The couple have a 20-year lease on the premises, currently renting at around €40,000 per annum.
At the moment, 30 people are employed at the restaurant, and fish is sourced from local fishermen.
In their application, the couple said the main kitchen is limited in size, which required a basement kitchen for food preparation and some light cooking.
“The ancillary dining area at the basement level was fitted out in order to allow us manage noise levels during busy evening sittings.
“This area was also intended to allow us cater for private functions such as christenings, Holy Communions, birthdays etc. The basement dining area, however, turned out to be far more characteristic than we had envisioned and we were developing a lighter tapas style theme for this area.
“This is our first time to open or operate a restaurant and we had no idea that our planning was so restrictive and we were advised when taking on the lease that we had greater flexibility than we, in fact, had.
“It was not out intention to open this area without planning and it has caused us great concern as we have clearly invested very heavily in this area.
“The basement kitchen and dining room are key to the operation and survival of the restaurant and we ask the Council to grant us retention permission to continue this use,” the application reads.
An inspection by Executive Planner John Doody found there were “substantial unauthorised works”, including a constructed store for drinks, and the building’s communal bin store to the rear contained fridges and was being used as the cold food storage area.
“A timber structure/divider had been constructed and was being used for storing the bins within the communal open space area, there were also a number of fridges/coolers and other equipment located directly in the communal rear area,” Mr Doody said.
However, planners rejected the application, ruling it would impact on the residents who live in overhead apartments.
The business was also recently refused permission by An Bord Pleanála to extend its opening hours from 10pm to 11.30pm.
The City Council has ruled that the use of the basement as a kitchen and seating area represents an “unacceptable overdevelopment and intensification of uses resulting in the inadequate provision of communal amenity open space contravening the Development Plan standards and facilitating a substandard unauthorised development”.
“The development of the basement area has displaced the permitted cold food/goods and waste storage areas from basement level to the rear communal open space/structures.
“If retained, this would fragment and adversely impact upon the usability and functionality of an area specifically designated as a communal open space intended to be used for the enjoyment of the occupiers of the building and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” the Council ruled.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.