Approval given to use student accommodation at former Westwood Hotel for tourists

Galway Daily news Council rejects off-licence plans for student accommodation

An Bord Pleanála has granted approval for the student accommodation on the site of the former Westwood Hotel to take in tourists in the coming academic year.

The board gave planning permission for the demolition of the Westwood Hotel in Dangan and the construction of a 394 bed student accommodation development in its place in September 2018.

One of the conditions of that planning permission was that the development “shall only be occupied as student accommodation, in accordance with the definition of student accommodation provided under section 13(d) of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, and shall not be used for any other purpose without a prior grant of planning permission for change of use.”

In March of this year NTM ROI Seed Capital sought approval to temporarily use this site partially for tourists and other visitors during the 2020/21 academic year period.

The developer said that the COVID-19 crisis has affected their construction schedule, which may result in the site “not being completed in time for student intake for the 2020/2021 academic year”.

The developer also said that the uncertainties caused by this crisis make it impossible to forecast student numbers for the coming year, and proposed that if the site achieved 60% occupancy by students, they would not need to make use of the changed conditions.

In making its decision, An Bord Pleanála took into consideration the “limited nature and scale” of the proposed alteration, as well as the “absence of any significant new or additional environmental concerns” arising from the change.

The period in which the student accommodation would be able to accept tourist and other visitors will only last from September 1, 2020 until May 31, 2021.

After that point, the original condition of planning permission, that the development only be used for student accommodation during the academic year, will come back into effect