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Jurys name to disappear after 30 years in Galway



From the Galway City Tribune – The Jurys Inn name is set to disappear from Galway after almost thirty years.

The operators of the hotel on Quay Street have sought permission to erect new illuminated signage as part of the chains rebranding to ‘Leonardo Hotels’.

Fattal Jurys Operation (Ireland) Ltd – which is owned by Israeli hotelier David Fattal – has sought planning permission for the new signage on the building to replace the existing branding.

It is part of a move by the company to rebrand all 35 Jurys hotels in Ireland and the UK.

Fattal Jurys operates the hotel, which is owned by Swedish hotel giant Pandox, a company which leases out more than 150 hotels across 15 countries.

Galway City Council will make a decision on the planning application by the end of January.

Two years ago, Jurys Fattal was given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála for a major extension to the Quay Street premises – including the construction of nearly 80 bedrooms and a larger entrance area.

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.

Permission was initially sought to add 89 rooms, but the company was sent back to the drawing board by the Council, which branded the scale and design “unacceptable”.

The Council also voiced concerns about negative impact on views and would “greatly detract” from the area overlooking the River Corrib.

Significantly scaled-back plans, including the omission of 10 of the proposed bedrooms, were approved. The revised plans included reduced size of the new wing and the building must be set further back, at 20 metres from the Corrib.

Aluminium panels originally proposed for part of the façade have been replaced by Kilkenny limestone. Proposed balcony extensions and recessed balconies facing to Wolfe Tone Bridge were omitted.

There were three objections to the plans during the initial planning phase – those objectors subsequently appealed the decision.

Environmental watchdog group An Taisce said the scale and height of the development would have an adverse visual impact on what is a prominent city centre location with protected views.

McDonogh Fertilizers Ltd – which owns the adjacent multi-storey carpark – said the future development potential of their site may be impacted on the basis that the hotel is reliant on carparking spaces in the carpark and that the existing agreement to provide spaces expires in 2028. They asked the board to assess the proposals on the basis that the parking spaces will not be available beyond that date.

Bernie and Mary Casey, who own the adjoining Costa Coffee – which shares Blake’s Castle with Jury’s – said they did not give any form of consent to the planning application being lodged and also lodged an appeal.

Jury’s also appealed a planning condition that it must contribute €127,500 to the City Council towards the provision of public transport facilities (due to the carparking demand created by the hotel).

An observation on the plans was submitted by Eugene McKeown from Barna who noted the importance of the Bruach na Coiribe walkway and asked that a strongly-worded condition be imposed in relation to noise coming from the boiler house adjacent to the walk.

An Bord Pleanála upheld the City Council decision to grant permission for the redevelopment, and ordered that the €127,500 contribution must be made.

The hotel opened its doors in April 1993 and introduced the ‘pay per room’ concept to Ireland, with peak season prices of £49 per room for two adults and two children or three adults sharing.


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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