South Park must not be turned into a 200 space car park to accommodate Pearse Stadium and City Hall has a duty to reject any such application by the GAA.
This is the view of Independent city councillor Catherine Connolly and her remarks follow the GAA's seeking of planning permission from the Galway City Council to erect five floodlight columns with associated floodlights in Pearse Stadium, Salthill.
Three of the proposed columns will be 30.48m high and two will be 36.6m. The floodlights on each column will number between 33 and 40 lighting fixtures. The floodlights will be fitted to 4.5m radius support frames on each column.
Planning permission is also sought for a 550kVA standby electricity generator underneath the western terrace, associated control gear to provide on/off control and monitoring of lighting system, electrical works, and associated site works.
It appears the planning application also seeks to create car parking for the stadium. According to Cllr Connolly, the application includes a drawing marking out 200 parking spaces in South Park, in The Claddagh, one of the city's most popular green areas for walking and sports.
Cllr Connolly is alleging the GAA is claiming it has secured more than 4,000 parking spaces at throughout the city, including at South Park. However, contained within the planning file is a copy of email correspondence from City Hall's parks superintendent, saying each application for parking would be assessed on a case by case basis.
“In these circumstances it is very clear in my opinion that the GAA have not secured 200 car parking spaces in South Park,” said Cllr Connolly.
She also raised this matter at a recent council meeting but “it appeared no member of staff or management was aware of such a provision or arrangement for parking”.
In a letter dated July 25, Cllr Connolly wrote to City Hall's Planning Department to highlight “residents' ongoing concerns” and to “object in the strongest possible terms” to granting planning permission “that would include and/or be based on the availability of 200 car parking spaces in South Park”.
She pointed out that South Park is protected under the City Development Plan as a Neighbourhood Park with specific designation for passive and active recreation. In 2012 councillors also declared it an ‘Area of Special Amenity’ based on the park’s “natural beauty and/or its special recreational value”.
Cllr Connolly added that South Park would be “totally unsuitable as a car park” given how the area is “subject to ongoing and constant flooding” and she was critical of the fact that the Claddagh Residents Association “were never consulted in relation to any plans for parking in South Park”.