Council refuses planning for Galway United Centre of Excellence

Galway daily sport Galway United Centre of Excellence
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Galway County Council has refused planning permission for a Centre of Excellence training facility for Galway United FC and Connacht Hockey Association.

The planning application was made jointly by the two associations to create modern training and player development facilities over 25.21ha at Mountain South, Athenry.

The site is owned by the Comer Brothers, long time sponsors of Galway United who recently were approved to become the majority owners of the club.

Luke and Brian Comer had pledged to use the land for developing a centre of excellence for soccer in Galway back in 2018.

Centre of Excellence

The Centre of Excellence would involve building a single two storey sports centre including dressing rooms, gym, canteens, meeting rooms, offices, toilets’, storage areas and ancillary rooms.

Three natural grass, and three astro-turf soccer pitches, along with two hockey pitches would be built outside, along with their associated floodlighting.

The centre will also include two full enclosed astro-turf soccer pitches, and a fully enclosed soccer dome with changing rooms and seating.

Two other multi-purpose areas would cater to sports such as tennis, volleyball, etc.

Major infrastructure involved in the project would include creating a solar panel field, and erecting wind turbines to power the entire facility.

The existing access road onto what it currently agricultural land would have to be widened, realigned, and improved, and internal roadways and parking would have to be built.

Letters of support for the project were received from the Football Association of Ireland, and Hockey Ireland, with the latter noting that Connacht is often seen as a “poor relation” when it comes to sporting facilities.

Galway Cycling Campaign made a submission stating that the application was deficient in relation to active travel goals, and a lack of provision for people with reduced mobility, suggesting that it should be withdrawn, and a pre-planning meeting take place before any further application.

Planning refused

The County Council refused planning permission on multiple grounds related to the rural nature of the site, and road traffic concerns.

The council’s decision highlighted the unserviced nature of the site, and said that the brand new would be a “disorderly haphazard development” if approved.

Concerns were also raised by the county council about the site’s location in a fluvial flood risk zone, the ability to treat and dispose of sewage, and the lack of confirmation from Irish Water of the feasibility of connecting the site.

The decision also highlighted the hydrological links of the site to the Galway Bay Complex SAC, and potential negative impacts, and that the built form would not integrate with the rural area.

Significant issues were also raised about road traffic implications, with concerns about the adequacy of the local road network, sightlines where the site connects with the R347, and the fact that a Road Safety Audit was not submitted with the application.