A planning application has today been lodged for the eight-acre infill development site adjacent to Ceannt Train Station in Galway city centre that will see the creation of 11 new streets and four new civic spaces. The development company is a joint venture between Galway-based Edward Capital and London-based Summix Capital. The neighbourhood, deriving its name from an historic name for the area is to be known as Augustine Hill, and will deliver 376 homes in an exciting mixed-use expansion of the city centre.
The planning application includes a masterplan for the area prepared by international architectural practice BDP following extensive public consultation during 2017- 2019.
Through a series of 11 new streets and four large public spaces, defined by the restoration of two existing protected stone buildings and 12 new contemporary buildings, Augustine Hill backers say it will bring new life and activity to this currently derelict area in the heart of the city.
From the summer of 2017, public consultation was undertaken to ascertain what the people of Galway expected of a development at Augustine Hill. To ensure that the process was open, several strands from online surveys and face-to-face interviews were conducted across Galway and the wider region.
A series of public workshops were also held where people could engage communally and individually with Augustine Hill’s design team made up of some 83 professional consultants. Local interest groups, secondary and third level students as well as more than 40 stakeholders from across the city, took part.
Some 2,500 people engaged in the consultation process contributing a range of ideas that assisted in the design of Augustine Hill.
Each of the buildings embodies world-class design and sustainability. Augustine Hill provides a well-connected, permeable and fully accessible urban streetscape that provides an enhanced setting to the protected former train shed and stables buildings.
High-quality and well-considered architecture, as well as strong integrated design by the architects BDP, will deliver 376 new residential living units in the heart of Galway city centre. These will consist of 1-2-3 bedroom apartments, comprising residential living units for sale, to rent and social/eldercare units.
This new community will result in the creation of a new city centre neighbourhood of some 900 residents who will be able to avail of community, cultural facilities and have direct access to Galway’s public transport network.
Augustine Hill will create clear pedestrian linkage from Eyre Square to the sea, Lough Atalia and the Inner Harbour Area, providing three principal links to allow permeability through the site and enable future development (including water related leisure uses ) to maintain links back to the city centre.
These new routes will be well defined by urban buildings with active facades. The inclusion of 1,150 dedicated cycle spaces, a cycle café and cycle clinic on Lough Atalia Road will ensure Augustine Hill becomes a cycle interchange in the city on the proposed Oranmore to Bearna Greenway.
Augustine Hill will also have 570 car spaces in a multi-storey carpark some of which will be dedicated for use by CIE.
It will have a landscaping strategy of bringing greenery into Galway city to provide an attractive and sustainable environment that complements the historic context. The existing change in site levels are celebrated with wide urban staircases (with lifts for accessibility ) that contribute to a dynamic public realm, that includes two publicly accessible shopping levels and a fully accessible roof terrace that offer impressive views out over Galway Bay, Lough Atalia and back towards the city.
Augustine Hill also plans a vibrant shopping and dining area combining city living, leisure and arts/community uses to complement the city of Galway. It will enhance the city experience creating different reasons for different people to visit Augustine Hill at different times of day.
The centrepiece of Augustine Hill is a retail and leisure building described as the “Island” that includes a publicly accessible, architectural innovative ‘park in the sky’ with a capacity for 350 people. The opportunity to develop retail within an overall mixed-use scheme built on studies from around the globe that also embraces the future of retail.
A composition of taller residential buildings which the company says are “inspired by the landscape of Connemara,” are seamlessly integrated into the new streetscapes providing the 376 residences with access to and bringing new life and activity to all amenities in the city centre. These uses include an attractive public realm and unique rooftop access with restaurants, leisure and views over the city and out to sea.
A landmark residential building is located adjacent to the railway line on Lough Atalia Road which acts as a gateway marker that provides legibility to the city. All the residential buildings are provided with private roof gardens above the public spaces that will give unrivalled views out of the development.
One Planet Living framework
The project team is using the One Planet Living framework developed by London-based charity Bioregional to set and meet bold sustainability objectives, aiming to enable future residents, visitors and workers within Augustine Hill to lead high quality, low impact lifestyles.
The key sustainability features outlined in this One Planet Action Plan have formed part of the planning application. Each residential unit and commercial space is designed to be extremely energy efficient, to meet the NZEB performance standard and be eligible for BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’.
Space heating and power will be provided through heat pumps and certified green energy. Use of natural gas on-site will be minimal with aspirations to offset where necessary.
The development will have on-site renewable energy generation in the form of a solar canopy on top of the MSCP, providing zero-carbon electricity that can help charge electric vehicles.
The project team has also commissioned Professor Alan Ahearne, of NUI Galway’s Whittaker Institute to provide an assessment on the economic impact of Augustine Hill for Galway and Ireland.
Among his findings, he has noted that it would provide a significant and welcome boost to economic activity in Galway and the West of Ireland, involving an estimated investment of €320 million.
“The construction of Augustine Hill would support more than 610 new jobs per year on average for six years, increase national income by roughly €240 million and contribute nearly €140 million to the Exchequer,” he said.
In addition, Augustine Hill would generate about €9 million in development contributions for Galway City Council. When complete, the commercial operations (retail, restaurants, cinema, offices, leisure and hotel ) and new residential community at Augustine Hill would support more than 2,700 jobs on a permanent basis, boost national income by nearly €200 million annually and contribute €80 million each year to the Irish Exchequer.
Augustine Hill would also generate recurring revenues for Galway City Council in the form of annual rates and LPT receipts.
“There is a clear economic and social need for a substantial increase in the supply of residential units, retail and leisure offerings, tourism capacity and cultural facilities in Galway city over the medium term. Augustine Hill would deliver in all these areas. Galway city has been Ireland’s most rapidly developing urban area for half a century and is recognised as a key driver for economic development in the West of Ireland,” added Prof Ahearne.
“For Galway to continue to grow and realise its full potential, substantial new investment in the city is required. Augustine Hill would be at the heart of a thriving Galway city that would foster enterprise and innovation, attract FDI and retain talent.
“Augustine Hill would support balanced regional development by creating new employment and economic activity in Galway and the West of Ireland during both the construction and operational phases. In this regard, the development would strongly support the delivery of the National Planning Framework (NPF ) and other national, regional and local plans for the development of Galway city and Galway’s role in the regional and national economy.
“Augustine Hill would successfully extend the city centre by locating substantial new commercial operations and residential communities close to Eyre Square and key transport hubs. The development would integrate sensible spatial policy with sustainable transport policy. Augustine Hill would help to sustainably influence Galway’s surrounding area by contributing towards a critical mass of demand that would help justify strengthening of public transport in the long term, making sustainable mobility more viable for the whole region.
“Augustine Hill would achieve an appropriate level of residential density. With the population of Galway city projected to jump by more than 40,000-48,000 over the next two decades, the new homes at Augustine Hill would increase housing supply in Galway in a sustainable way that avoids urban sprawl and traffic congestion. Augustine Hill would be an attractive place with a strong sense of place, where people would like to live, shop, work, learn and play.
“It would be a place that would inspire creativity, culture, sustainability and community. Augustine Hill is designed to enable its residents, workers, visitors and other site users to benefit from productive working environments and high-quality lifestyles with a reduced environmental impact,” the report concluded.