Residents win planning battle against Chinese restaurant

Seacrest: planning permission was sought for an upstairs unit.

Residents in Knocknacarra have won their battle to prevent a first-floor apartment in Shangort being converted to a Chinese restaurant.

Jack Chen had sought permission for a change of use of the apartment at the small shopping centre at Seacrest on the Shangort Road – opposite McGrath’s Field – to a restaurant with seating for 48 people.

However, Galway City Council ruled that such a use would contravene the current City Development Plan because it would adversely impact adjacent dwellings and their private amenity space and cause an increase in traffic.

They added that there would be insufficient parking and the restaurant would be likely to lead to illegal parking on adjacent roadways and housing estates, which would create a traffic hazard and endanger public safety by reason of obstruction.

Planners added that Mr Chen failed to show sufficient legal interest or permission for the construction of a rear fire escape stairs and for work to the attic and roof, which would render it a hazard to public safety.

Mr Chen had proposed to have opening hours of 5.30pm to 10.30pm, and that the busy period for the restaurant would be 7pm to 10pm, when all other businesses in the building are closed.

“The carpark in the evening will be virtually free from 6pm and this will eliminate any parking or traffic issues.

“Chinese restaurants by their nature are usually very quiet as the music is low and soft, so the noise levels will be kept to a minimum,” the application reads.

A total of eleven objections were received, as well as petitions signed by almost 50 residents of the adjacent Woodview Court and Seacrest estates on the grounds that it is a residential area; it would create traffic problems; there is already a lack of parking in the area and that it may lead to anti-social behaviour.

Residents also referred to a decision by An Bord Pleanála in 2001, overturning permission for a Chinese restaurant in one of the shop units in the development.

An objection to Mr Chen’s application was also lodged by local area councillor Donal Lyons, who said: “As a local representative, I have not received any representations requesting that such a change of use is needed in the area. Alternatively, I have received a large number of representations requesting my support in objecting to this planning application.

“As outlined, I believe that the character of the area would be seriously affected. This is an established residential area.

“The proposal would result in an increase in late night noise and disturbance, to the serious detriment of the adjoining occupier,” wrote Cllr Lyons.

A resident of Woodview Court said: “There is the potential for anti-social behaviour with people congregating at the restaurant and take away late at night causing disturbance and vandalism.

“I am concerned that people would gather in the shared laneway at the back of Seacrest shopping centre. The laneway is shared by the residents backing onto the shopping centre.”

In 2001, the current Mayor of Galway, Cllr Pearce Flannery, had planning permission refused by An Bord Pleanala to convert the former Quinn’s shop unit to a ‘Bamboo Hut’ Chinese restaurant and take-away.

The Board noted that the proposed restaurant was located within an area zoned primarily for residential purposes and that it would result in “a material increase in late-night noise and disturbance to the serious detriment of adjoining occupiers”.

Mr Chen lists himself in the planning application as the owner of the 4/5-bed apartment, which was on the market last year with a guide price of €235,000.