Planning permission is being sought from Galway County Council to convert a vacant premises in Loughrea town centre into a café and digital enterprise hub.
The ground floor premises on Station Road in Loughrea, which are part of the three storey Railway House building, have been vacant for almost 13 years due to a lack of interest from retailers.
Approval is now being sought from the county council to change its permitted usage from retail to a ‘Community Digital Hub’, which will include a café, high speed broadband access, podcast studio, virtual conferencing rooms, event space, stage & exhibition area, digital work stations, and business mentoring/training spaces.
Galway County Council refused approval for plans to convert this space to serviced offices in March of this year, saying that allowing it would result in too much office space at this location.
Owner Padraig Sweeney has now partnered with UK company Comworks to develop the location as a digital enterprise hub, similar to one which they opened in Cork.
The application states that this will be a “community space, designed to support enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in Loughrea and the greater east Galway area”.
The plan is to create a “high tech community environment, increasing the standard of meeting facilities & virtual conferencing facilities available to the public.”
“Business mentoring, incubation services and early supports are provided for start-ups and established businesses, connecting directly with the local enterprise office, Enterprise Ireland and our own support system”.
The application also states that it will provide a space for third level students who have difficulty accessing high speed broadband, regularly host skilling events, and provide easier access to modern facilities for people in the area with responsibilities such as children or caring for a family member.
A decision from the council is due on this fresh planning application by July 14.