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Fears over ‘noise issue’ at new Black Gate arts venue



From the Galway City Tribune – The backers of the Black Gate Theatre project have been asked to produce a noise impact assessment for their proposed new performance space in Galway City.

Peadar King and Eamonn Day Lavelle had sought permission for works to Flood Street House on Flood Street, which include a change of use from retail space on the ground floor and office space on the first floor.

The plans involve a cultural centre with a café bar and performance space/theatre area on the ground floor and a recording studio and editing suite overhead. However, Galway City Council has already ruled out the studio plan.

Through Trá Gheall Ltd, the applicants own the building and the apartments on the upper floors. They told Galway City Council that extensive soundproofing works would be carried out to the existing walls and the fabric of the ceiling on the ground floor “to ensure that sound levels are kept to acceptable levels and to stunt transfer of sound”.

The business partners hope to create a similar business to that the Black Gate, which they set up on Francis Street in 2017.

“It was at once a café and wine bar, a music venue, a state-of-the-art recording studio, a gallery, and an office space for creatives. Our aim was to build a cultural hub in Galway; a place of character, community, creativity and respect. We succeeded.

“We are now an integral part of the Irish music scene. Over the years we have hosted an enormous variety of gigs; everything from trad to hip-hop, jazz to folk, from local emerging musicians to renowned international stars.

“We are driven by the need to give artists voice and space, while constantly strengthening our position as a vital fulcrum across Galway’s music, film, TV, art and theatre scenes,” the applicants to the Council.

They added that they launched the Black Gate music label in 2020 and already released Niamh Regan’s debut album; the Black Gate recording studio and Seisiúin sa Black Gate, a music series for TG4.

According to the application, hours of operation will be 4.30pm to 11.30pm seven nights a week and there will be no cooking on site, just finger food and cheese plates with a glass of beer or wine.

However, the Council has now sought further information on the proposals and given the applicants until next April to respond or the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority said the provision of a cultural hub on the ground floor of the building would be acceptable, but it had concerns about “the significant intensification of use on site in an area where there are a significant number of residential units and businesses”.

“It is considered that the use of the ground floor space as a café/bar, performance space and theatre, seven days a week, from 4pm to 11pm, is likely to give rise to a negative impact on amenities in the local area, particularly residential amenity,” the Council said, requesting a noise impact assessment be carried out and that “noise associated with group gatherings/congregations of people outside the permitted public footpath” should be considered as part of the report.

The local authority added that regardless of proposed soundproofing, the use of the first-floor office space, adjacent to an existing apartment, is considered to be unacceptable as it would give rise to a negative impact on residential amenity. The recording studio and editing suite must, therefore, be omitted from the plans.

The Council also noted that there are two new “exit doors” proposed at ground floor level and asked the applicants to justify their need and comment on potential for noise issues.

“The operation or opening/closing of these doors is a critical consideration due to the high potential for noise to transmit/escape externally to the street, which would ultimately provide a negative impact on amenities in the local area,” the Council said.

A submission from Flood Street resident, Robert Conneely, raised concerns about potential for noise and patrons using the front as a smoking area or for gathering, as well as the noise on the street during the hours of operation from 4.30pm to 11pm.

He also raised concerns about the proposed new doors, which would facilitate for access onto Flood Street, and potentially more people congregating or smoking outside. One of the doors is located adjacent to an internal stage area “which may be opened during events . . . where sound leakage could occur” causing a significant noise issue on the street, Mr Conneely said.


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

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Official opening of Galway’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge



The new Salmon Weir pedestrian and cycle bridge will be officially opened to the public next Friday, May 26.

Work on the €10 million bridge got underway in April 2022, before the main structure was hoisted into place in early December.

A lunchtime tape-cutting ceremony will take place on Friday, as the first pedestrians and cyclists traverse the as-yet-unnamed bridge.

The Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, previously said the bridge, once opened, would remove existing conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and traffic “as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge”.

The naming of the new bridge has been under discussion by the Council’s Civic Commemorations Committee since late last year.

One name that has been in the mix for some time is that of the first woman in Europe to graduate with an engineering degree – Alice Perry.

Ms Perry, who was from Wellpark, graduated from Queen’s College Galway (now University of Galway) in 1906. The university’s engineering building is named in her honour.

The bridge was built by Jons Civil Engineering firm in County Meath and was assembled off-site before being transported to Galway. Funding for the project was provided in full by the National Transport Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.

(Photo: Sheila Gallagher captured the city’s new pedestrian footbridge being raised on the south side of the Salmon Weir Bridge in December. It will officially open next Friday, May 26).

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Minister branded ‘a disgrace’ for reversing land rezoning in Galway City



From the Galway City Tribune – Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell was labelled a “disgrace” for overturning councillors’ decisions to rezone land in the new City Development Plan.

Minister O’Donnell (pictured) confirmed in a letter to Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath last week that he was reversing 25 material alternations made by councillors to the CDP 2023-29. He made the decision on the advice of Office of Planning Regulator (OPR).

Minister O’Donnell directed that 14 land parcels that were subject to land-use zoning changes by councillors as part of the Material Alterations to the Draft CDP should be reversed.

He directed that a further 11 land parcels in the city should become “unzoned”.

The Minister found that the CDP had not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the OPR, which required specific changes to the plan to ensure consistency with the national planning laws and guidelines.

At last week’s Council meeting Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked for clarity on the process by which councillors could rezone the lands that had been changed by the Minister’s direction.

Cllr Declan McDonnell said, “What he [Minister O’Donnell] has done is an absolute disgrace”.

And he asked: “Do we have to have another development plan meeting to deal with it?”

Both Cllrs Hoare and McDonnell wondered what would become of the lands that were rezoned or unzoned by the ministerial direction.

Mr McGrath said the Council had put forward an argument in favour of retaining the material alterations in the plan, but ultimately the Minister sided with OPR.

He said if councillors want to make alterations to the new plan, they could go through the process of making a material alteration but this was lengthy.

The Save Roscam Peninsula campaign welcomed the Minister’s decision.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, it said the direction would mean the Roscam village area on the Roscam Peninsula will be unzoned and a number of land parcels would revert back to agriculture/high amenity.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “the material alterations made by city councillors following lobbying by developers continued the long-standing practice of councillors facilitating a developer-led plan rather than an evidence- and policy-based plan that meets the needs of the city.

“The Minister’s direction is an important step in restoring confidence in the planning system. It is clear from the City Council’s own evidence on future housing projections that there was no requirement to zone these lands for residential purposes in order to meet the needs of the targeted population increase up to 2029,” the spokesperson added.

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