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Planning Appeals Board gives green light to Shantalla apartments


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Planning Appeals Board gives green light to Shantalla apartments Planning Appeals Board gives green light to Shantalla apartments

The Planning Appeals Board has given the go-ahead for an apartment development on the site of the former Ó hUiginn hardware stores in Galway – despite huge local opposition.

In June 2022, Sean Talamh Development Ltd applied to Galway City Council for permission to build 86 apartments, along with a crèche for up to 50 children and a coffee shop on the disused 1.5-acre site which housed the hardware business until it moved to a new site on the Rahoon Road five years ago. That business is not affected by the plans.

The initial plans sought to construct a U-shaped block ranging from three to five storeys in height.

However, following a series of objections – there were 43 submissions, including a petition from Shantalla residents with 73 signatures which raised issues over zoning, flooding, loss of retail space, excessive height, noise and dust nuisance – the plans were scaled back to 74 apartments and the crèche and café were omitted.

The Council ultimately granted planning permission, ordering that one floor on the northern side of the development be omitted (reducing the overall number of apartments to 70).

That decision was subsequently the subject of four appeals, including another petition from Shantalla residents.

They argued that the zoning of the site (for enterprise, light industry and commercial) did not support the proposed residential use and that the development would negatively impact on the area.

Objectors added that the existing water infrastructure was too old and could not support additional development, and flooding would result, noting long-standing flooding issues on Davis Road.

Concerns were also raised that ‘Red Lane’ would be handed over to a private management company – locals said the lane should be open for use everyone and the addition of a cycle lane there would make it more dangerous.

Residents said the apartments would overlook Davis Road, Rahoon Road, Maunsells Road and Fort Eyre and the scale and height of the development would result in overshadowing of the street. They said they were ‘baffled’ over inconsistent decision making – 60 apartments over Aldi Westside were refused because of overshadowing a single row of houses.

Traffic issues were also raised by locals, who said overflow parking from University Hospital Galway was already a problem and increased traffic would pose a danger to children attending Scoil Bhríde.

Stephen Rhys Thomas, Senior Planning Inspector with An Bord Pleanála,  said that changes had been made to the scheme and there had been an overall reduction in height, and therefore he did not anticipate any severe loss of privacy to adjacent residents and that overshadowing will not be an issue for existing residents.

Mr Rhys Thomas said he was satisfied there was enough parking and that the existing road network could accommodate the development. He said he was satisfied with the design and proposed use of Red Lane.

He went on to say: “Given the nature of the site, entirely built over and with existing on site surface water management infrastructure and connections to the municipal stormwater network, I do not anticipate that flood risk would be an issue for the site or result in off-site consequences.”

The Senior Planning Inspector recommended that the Council’s decision be upheld.

However, at a meeting of the Board itself, a decision was made to overrule Mr Rhys Thomas’ recommendation that the floor with four apartments be omitted (as per the Council decision), ruling that it would not be unduly overbearing, would not give rise to excessive overlooking and would not seriously injure the residential amenities of the area. Therefore, the overall number of apartments permitted is 74.

“Having regard to the designation of the lands as a Strategic Regeneration and Opportunity Site [the ‘Shantalla Road Opportunity Site’] in the Galway City Development Plan, it is considered that the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of property in the vicinity, would not be prejudicial to public health and would, subject to conditions, be acceptable in terms of traffic and pedestrian safety and visual amenity,” the Board decided.

Property developer Walter King is behind the plans for the €25 million development. Sean Talamh Development Ltd is jointly owned by siblings Martin and Amanda King and siblings Michael and Maeve O’Higgins – the latter have told the Council they are the owners of the unregistered lands.

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