The scale of the massive game-changing development Augustine Hill, to be located on lands adjacent to Ceannt Station, has been reduced significantly in a number of ways, in designs submitted in response to requests for further information from planners at Galway City Council.
The development will create a series of 11 new streets and four large public spaces defined by the restoration of three existing protected stone buildings and 12 new contemporary buildings, just a stone’s throw from Eyre Square.
The neighbourhood, deriving its name from an historic name for the area will now deliver 404 homes in a mixed-use expansion of the city centre. The planning application (one of the most extensive ever submitted in the west ) includes a masterplan for the area prepared by international architectural practice BDP following extensive public consultation during 2017- 2019.
The overall residential element of the development has been increased by 7.5% compared to the scheme as submitted with the planning application. 404 residential units are now proposed. The proportion of ‘Build-to-rent’ (BTR ) units has also decreased in favour of build to sell units. Additionally, the number of ‘Independent Living’ units for the elderly within the BTR quantum has increased by some 45%, from 43 units proposed at application stage to 62 units now proposed.
This increase in residential units has arisen as a direct result of the reduction in the commercial floor area, with certain parts of the buildings accommodating the residential uses being re-organised to accommodate these further residential units.
“This has the potential to assist Galway City to transition to a truly sustainable place to live within the next decade,” he added.
The quantity of Public Open Space proposed has been increased by 3,544sqm, with increased activities and sculptures provided for within the open space areas throughout the development.
The development company is a joint venture between Edward Capital and Summix Capital. The response includes an updated masterplan for the area prepared by International Architects BDP and Stephen Little and Associates following extensive public consultation undertaken by Edward Capital during 2017- 2019.
An investment in Galway itself
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Edward Capital’s Paddy McDonald said that Augustine Hill is not just about architecture and development, but that it is an investment in Galway itself – in the right place and at the right time.
“The project has the potential to deliver real social value: five new public spaces interconnected with eleven streets, art, sculpture, landscape – and almost a doubling of the pedestrian space in the city.
“The new public places will be reinforced by the investment by CIE and the URDF in Ceannt Station itself and increased public transport. The RFI by Galway City Council has allowed us to rebalance Augustine Hill with 8% more residences but with 11% less commercial volume and 25% less car parking,” he said.
In summary, the proposed development is for a mixed-use urban regeneration project with an overall gross floor area of approximately 114,161 sq.m (approximately 94,540 sq.m, excluding the multi-storey carpark and single level service yard basement with access ramp ) on a site of approx. 3.46Ha.
The development is arranged across nine development blocks (B1 – B9 ) with a total of six residential buildings above Blocks B5, B7, B8 and B9, with building heights ranging from single storey to 22 storeys overall.
Key changes to Augustine Hill during redesign
The scale of the proposed development has been reduced significantly in a variety of ways. The following provides a brief summary of the nature of these reductions in respect of each relevant block:
• Block 01: Massing and overall appearance of rear extension to No. 16 Eyre Square has been reduced. A greater separation distance is now provided between No. 16 Eyre Square and the rear building line of the modern extension.
• Block 02: One storey has been removed from the overall height of the hotel.• Block 03: The maximum height of Block 03 will be reduced by c. 1.3m (proposed modern extension to Goods Shed ). The roof profile has also been revised, which results in reduced massing. • Block 05: One storey has been removed from the overall height of this Block.
• Block 06: The overall massing of the island block has been reduced, including a reduction of c. 434 sq.m in the Block’s overall floor area and a reduction of c. 120 sq.m of the Block’s footprint.
• Block 07: The overall massing and height of this Block has been reduced, including a reduction of c. 6,014 sq.m in the Block’s overall floor area, a reduction of c. 400 sq.m in the Block’s footprint and a reduction in maximum height of the multi-storey car park element of the Block by two storeys.
• Block 08: The overall massing and height of this Block has been reduced, including a reduction in overall floor area of c. 1,579 sq.m and a reduction in maximum height of Pin 03 by a storey. The changes result in an increased distance between this Block and Forthill Cemetery at Podium Level.
• Block 09: The overall massing and height of this Block has been reduced, including a reduction in overall floor area of c. 1,325 sq.m and a reduction in maximum height of Pin 05 by two storeys. The separation distances between Pins 04 and 05 has been increased by c. 6.6m as a result.
• Block 10: This Block, which was up to eight storeys in height and had an overall floor area of c. 3,060 sq.m, has been removed from the scheme entirely.
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 both Galway and the wider region. Public workshops were also held where people could engage directly and individually with Augustine Hill’s design team comprising more than 80 professional consultants.
Local interest groups, secondary and third level students as well as more than 40 stakeholders groups 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.
This increase in residential units has arisen as a direct result of a the reduction in the commercial floor area, with certain parts of the buildings accommodating the residential uses being re-organised to accommodate these further residential units.
The architects say high-quality and well-considered architecture, as well as strong integrated design by international architects BDP, will deliver the 404 new residential living units in the heart of Galway City Centre to create a new authentic sense of community and place.
These will consist of one, two and three bedrooms, comprising residential living units for sale, to rent and social/eldercare units. This residential component will result in the creation of a new city centre neighbourhood of more than 1000 residents who will be able to avail of community, cultural facilities and with direct access to Galway’s public transport network.
New pedestrian linkages
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 Barna Greenway. This unique facility will provide secure storage while cyclists access the city on foot. Augustine Hill will also have 570 car spaces in a multi-storey carpark some of which will be dedicated for use by CIE.
A landscaping strategy of bringing greenery into Galway city will provide an attractive and sustainable environment that complements the historic context.
The centrepiece of Augustine Hill is a retail and leisure building described as the “Island” that includes a publicly accessible, architectural innovative roof garden with a capacity for 400 people. The opportunity to develop retail within an overall mixed-use scheme built on learnings from around the globe that also embraces the future of retail. Retail is evolving and differentiating, and better blending into the urban fabric of higher density settings like Augustine Hill.
A landmark residential building extending to 21 storeys is located adjacent to the railway line on Lough Atalia Road which acts as a gateway marker that aids 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.
The development 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 that will form part of the planning application.
More public space
The quantity of Public Open Space proposed has been increased by c. 3,544sqm, with increased activities and sculptures provided for within the open space areas throughout the development.The Connaught Square public open space area around Block 03 ‘The Train Shed’ has been re-designed to offer greater public amenity as a civic space. This includes a re-arrangement of tree planting and provision of additional seating within this space to frame and open up the small scale outdoor event space. When events are not being hosted/curated by the operator, this space will provide opportunities for the public to congregate and rest at a central location within the proposed development, directly adjacent to the proposed core retail area.
The smaller element of Connaught Square (c. 270 sq.m to the east of the Train Shed ) has been designed with a defined function, which is primarily to facilitate the provision of a quality outdoor terrace area serving the proposed café/restaurant units at ground floor level of the Train Shed. Finally, the portion of Connaught Square lying to the south of the Train Shed will be more heavily planted to create a ‘garden’ effect, while still maintaining good visibility across the square. The planting will create a soft buffer with the adjacent buildings and will provide an attractive setting for the multifunctional central space.
The proposed development has been revised to include a new public space (‘Lough Atalia Way’ ), which connects Meadle Place to Lough Atalia Road at ground level. This streetscape incorporates green space, new street trees and planting whilst retaining the necessary public access along the road. A direct pedestrian connection at ground floor level is now provided between the proposed development and Lough Atalia Road.
A number of design changes have been introduced to the scheme to improve the facilities and access arrangements for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. These include a further reduction in car parking numbers, thereby creating an even more sustainable development for Galway.