Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Galway City Council turns down leisure centre on driving range site



From the Galway City Tribune – The Council has refused planning permission for a gym and leisure centre at the former golf driving range in Salthill – part of which is already up and running.

Clearwater Ventures Ltd, which is owned by Cork-based McHugh Property Holdings and Francis O’Flaherty from Newcastle, had sought permission for the retention of the change of use of part of the former driving range to a leisure and wellness facility; the enclosure of two bays including the installation of windows; upgrade of the driving range building; erection of an external sauna and decking and the erection of signage.

The planning application also sought permission for the enclosure of the remaining bays and to develop a new café/retail area within the existing building.

“The development as carried out and as further proposed is entirely appropriate development in this location. It utilizes an existing building which has been vacant for a number of years with no possibility for the previous driving range use to return.

“The works which have been carried out and are to be carried out are a vast improvement on the state of the site prior and reduces the vacancy rate within Salthill.

“The site is ideally located close to residential areas and at the end of the Salthill Prom, making it highly accessible for alternative modes of transport to the car,” the application reads.

The plans showed yoga, crossfit, pilates and spinning studios, as well as gym, showers and a café area.

However, the City Council has rejected the application, ruling that it would not be compatible with the RA (recreation and amenity) land zoning.

Liam Blake, Senior Executive Planner, noted that the driving range buildings had facilitated the use of the lands for outdoor recreation – golf practice – and were ancillary to the primary outdoor activity.

However, the current application was effectively seeking permission for a gym/leisure centre, therefore they were “not related to and secondary to the primary use of the land for outdoor recreation” as required under the land zoning.

In its ruling, the Council said that if permission was granted, it would set a negative precedent of similar non-conforming uses on RA zoned lands.

The decision added that the applicant “failed to demonstrate that the operation of the proposed development, including the intensity of traffic movements, will not prejudice the objective of a greenway/cycle network” which had been included in the City Development Plan.

Galway Cycling Campaign made a submission on the plan which raised concerns about sightlines at the entrance to the site which would generate a risk to vulnerable road users.

The campaign group added that a Road Safety Audit should be carried out for the site, adding that there was no provision for cycle parking in the plans.

Part of the site opened last year offering yoga and other fitness activities – this was the element that retention permission was sought for.

Clearwater Ventures also owns the adjacent Spinnaker site, on which they hope to develop residential units.

McHugh Property Holdings – owned by Brian McHugh of EnviroBead – is currently redeveloping the derelict Blackrock cottage into a bike rental shop and café and separately, 83 social housing units in Gaelcarrig Park.

Mr McHugh is also part-owner of Strategic Land Investments Ltd, which has plans to develop the new ‘City North’ village between the Tuam Road, Parkmore and Ballybrit.

Francis O’Flaherty is Chief Operating Officer for Abbeyknockmoy businessman Declan Ganley’s Rivada Networks.

(Photo: The former driving range in Salthill, with some of the bays to the right already converted).

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 16. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


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.”

Continue Reading


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).

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading