Planning permission refused for expansion of Eyre Square hotel

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

Planning permission has been refused for the expansion of a hotel in Eyre Square, with strong criticism levied at the proposed design, and its relationship with the existing area.

Skeffington Arms Limited sought approval from the council to demolish the DNA nightclub at Ballalley Lane, and build a new seven storey extension to the Skeffington Arms Hotel in its place.

The proposed extension would contain 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 design of the building proposed a mix of stone work on the lower floor, with cladding and metal finishes on the upper floors.

There are no protected structures on the site itself, but two can be found adjacent to the north boundary, a fragment of the medieval walls bastion, and historical cottages.

A design report for the application argued that portions of the building have been “intentionally set back on ground and roof level” to create outdoor areas and to expose these historic structures to pedestrians’ view.

In refusing planning permission, the city council said 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 proposal would in its totality result in a negative impact on the unique impact and visual amenity of the city centre area, including the character and special interest of the adjoining Eyre Square Architectural Conservation Area”.

It was also noted that the proposed plot ratio was 4.78:1, more than twice what is generally permitted under the city development plan.

Circling back to its earlier criticism, the council said that the hotel would not qualify for an exception to this rule, as it would not make a “significant architectural contribution” to the character of the city.

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