Permission refused for Tesco hypermarket in Galway

Appeals board rules project would detract from ‘vitality and viability’ of city centre

The proposed Tesco hypermarket close to Galway’s city centre would have cost €15 million to build. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The proposed Tesco hypermarket close to Galway’s city centre would have cost €15 million to build. Photograph: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 18:23

Bord Pleanála has refused a planning application for a Tesco hypermarket close to Galway’s city centre.

The appeals board has ruled the €15 million project’s “excessive scale” would conflict with zoning objectives, and would detract from the “vitality and viability” of Galway city centre.

It has also said it would have “visually discordant” features.

The controversial planning application at Rahoon Road/Seamus Quirke Rd on the city’s west side had been originally lodged with Galway City Council by businessman and former Fianna Fáil mayor of Galway Micheál Ó hUiginn.

He sought approval to build a two-storey retail outlet on the site of his former lumberyard in the Rahoon/Seamus Quirke road area of Galway.

Councillors on the previous local authority had voted to amend the city development plan to rezone the 9.5 acre site on the Seamus Quirke Road/Rahoon Rd as a district centre, in spite of advice by former acting city manager Joe O’Neill and director of services Tom Connell that it was not in line with proper planning guidelines.

However, a former city mayor, Senator Hildegarde Naughton, had warned that the rezoning would have “serious implications” for city centre trade, while Labour councillors also supported the city manager’s stance on the basis that two retail centres at Knocknacarra and Briarhill were sufficient for population levels.

RGDATA which represents family-owned shops also said that the development could “hoover up business” within a 20km radius, while the Galway City Business Association, An Taisce and a coalition of three residents’ associations also opposed the plan.

The project was approved by Galway City Council, with 30 conditions, but was appealed. Mr Ó hUigínn was one of the appellants as he objected to a condition requiring construction of a public link road. A three-day oral hearing was held by An Bord Pleanála, due to the number of submissions it received.

Mr Ó hUigínn said he was “disappointed” but said he had not had an opportunity to review the decision in detail.

Highfield Park residents’ association spokesman Rónan MacGearailt said his group “welcomed, but was not surprised” by the Bord Pleanála ruling, and said that it addressed the concerns of residents, local schools, city traders and environmentalists.

“We hope this inspires other communities to actively oppose such developments... it is a great outcome for ordinary people,” Mr MacGearailt said.