NUI Galway is seeking planning permission to use the Goldcrest student accommodation in Dangan for tourists during the summer season.
The 429 apartment student accommodation complex at Goldcrest was granted planning permission in May 2016 by An Bord Pleanála, and began accepting students for the 2018/2019 academic year.
A condition of the permission granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2016 said that Goldcrest shall only be used for student accommodation between the September 1 and May 15 of each year, and for conference delegates and short term student stays during the summer.
The condition stipulated that “It shall not be used for holiday letting, nor as hotel or hostel accommodation, with a separate grant of planning permission”.
The current application before the city council is seeking approval to use Block A, consisting of 34 apartments, to be used as tourist/visitor accommodation outside of the academic term.
It states that subsequent to the grant of planning permission by An Bord Pleanála, in July 2016, the Department of Housing issued guidelines about planning conditions for student accommodation.
The application from NUIG says that planning authorities are encouraged to adopt a “flexible approach” in respect of planning conditions surrounding the proposed development’s use and occupation.
The Planning and Development Act of 2016 also includes a statutory definition of “student accommodation” which includes its use for tourist and visitor accommodation outside of term time as a recognised use.
NUIG’s application says that altering the condition would not constitute a “material alteration” to the permitted scheme, and further says that since the application only applies to a single block of 34 apartments, it would not affect the primary use of the complex.
“The proposal represents a sustainable approach to the provision of additional bed spaces for visitors to Galway City during the high peak tourist season and it ensures optimum occupation of the development year round”.
The city council is due to make a ruling on this planning application by January 28 of next year.