City centre hotel appeals refusal of expansion plans

Galway daily news City Centre hotel gets green light for major expansion

A hotel in Galway City Centre has lodged an appeal against the city council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a significant expansion.

The Skeffington Arms Hotel sought planning permission to demolish the DNA Nightclub on Ballalley Lane, and build a seven storey extension to the existing hotel in its place.

The city council rejected the plans due to the “poor design including scale, massing, height and low quality visual appearance” of the proposed extension, as well as its “unacceptable interface” with neighbouring protected structures and the Eyre Square Architectural Conservation Area.

The proposed building would consist of 44 guest bedrooms, a reception, breakfast areas, and restaurant with outdoor seating area, and would be connected to the existing hotel building through a link corridor at the second floor.

The hotel has now appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanála, which is due to make a decision by November 1.

The appeal disagrees with the council’s assessment of the design and visual impact of the hotel expansion, arguing that it will have a “striking positive impact” on the laneway, which has been developed in a “piecemeal fashion”, with little regard to the protected structures.

“Beyond the laneway the new building, at the top floors, will be visible at certain locations within the Eyre Square ACA. This is not unique as many other modern buildings in the city centre outside the ACA also appear within broad views across Eyre Square.”

“Nevertheless the building has been carefully designed so that it will read as separate to and clearly distinguishable from the ACA buildings, whilst the materiality and massing of the upper floors is intentionally “light” in order reduce any perceived visual prominence.”

However, in order to address some of the council’s concerns, a modified design was submitted, which omits metal cladding in the form of a vertical sun breaker around the top floors.

This, it is argued, will reduce the “visual dominance and massing” of the top floors where they are visible from Eyre Square.

The developer argued in the original application that the expansion was needed to make the existing hotel, which currently has 24 rooms, competitive with other hotels in the area.