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New owners cook up plans to transform former Griffin’s bakery



From the Galway City Tribune – The new owners of the landmark former Griffin’s Bakery premises on Shop Street have begun work on transforming it into a new food outlet with residential accommodation under a ‘living over the shop’ scheme.

Some of the work has already been carried out, by the owners’ admission, “without the benefit of assessment by the local authority and appropriate review channels”.


Jessed Ltd has now sought planning permission to retain works carried out on the ground floor of 21 Shop Street, including internal alterations and fit-out and for a change of use from bakery and coffee dock into a food outlet with indoor and outdoor seating.

The application also seeks permission for a change of use of the first, second and third floors from a bakery operation to residential use – including the removal of ovens, preparation and refrigeration equipment.

According to a Heritage Impact Report submitted to Galway City Council with the plans, some of the works have already been carried out “without the benefit of assessment by the local authority and appropriate review channels”, but investment in the building is “badly required”.

“It should be noted that all future repairs and replacements will be carried out in accordance with good conservation practice and the resultant works will ensure the functionality and economic usefulness of this building well into the future.

“The loss of the uneconomic retail/manufacturing use at this location is not considered to be significant, given the existing pattern of building uses where the predominance of manufacturing is concentrated outside of the city centre core area.

“The reinstatement of residential use to the upper floors is not inconsistent with the historical use of 21 Shop Street when operated for over 100 years by the previous owners and the intensification of use shall further extend the longevity of usefulness to the ‘living in the city’ and ‘living above the shop’ initiatives of most major Irish cities,” the report reads.

Under the Government’s Living City Initiative (LCI), Galway City centre is a designated Special Regeneration Area, meaning a person who refurbishes or converts residential or commercial properties can claim tax relief on monies spent.

Jessed Ltd is owned by Graham Quinn, who set up beauty products distribution business Graham Anthony, and is also involved in property investment with Joe Dennigan of the distribution giant Sam Dennigan & Co.

The Council is due to make a decision on the application at the end of the month.

According to a conservation report previously prepared for the building, Griffin’s was founded in 1876 by John and Miko Griffin, who started their business on Cross Street on the site of what is now Busker Browne’s, producing mainly bread and scones.

The brothers had the first break-making machine in the West of Ireland and supplied bread to the British Army and Navy.

In 1921, John’s son Matthew purchased 21 Shop Street, where he ran a tea room, as well as a cake and bread shop.

The business was handed down from Matthew to his son Anthony, who ran it from the 1960s until 2008 when it was taken over by his son Jimmy, who ran it with his wife until September 2019 when it closed its doors for good.

Planning watchdog An Taisce said that while it is great to see Griffin’s Bakery being utilised, they had concerns about the proliferation of cafés in the city centre.

They said that while the application seemed reasonable at the outset, there was no detail as to what was being provided over the full four floors of the building – apart from a café on the ground floor.

According to Derrick Hambleton of An Taisce, there is no clarification regarding the use of the upper floors of the building and if it will be turned into an Airbnb.

“While An Taisce members are indeed sad that the Griffin family is no longer operating a bakery, we have no principled objection to the shop conversion from the former bakery to a coffee dock and food outlet.

“An Taisce would however draw planners’ attention to the recent local disquiet over the number of coffee and sandwich outlets that are now being located in the city centre,” Mr Hambleton 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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