A complete regeneration plan for Salthill, including tax designation status for developing specific landmark buildings, is key to turning the area into “a world class European destination”.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway City West candidate Pearce Flannery, who is calling for Salthill residents’ groups, businesses, and tourism leaders to join forces to create a plan for the area to fully develop its commercial and tourist potential.
Mr Flannery is calling for the renovation of the promenade, including the development of a marina, as well as for Leisureland to be redeveloped into a “world class conference centre”.
The Salthill based candidate has already held meetings on the issue with Finance Minister Michael Noonan and An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Salthill must be put on a national agenda, but this can only be driven by local people with a vision for the area,” he said. “Minister Noonan and An Taoiseach were generally open and supportive of the idea. We are due to discuss this matter further.”
Mr Flannery is hoping to build a consensus among local stakeholders that will, by September, develop into a committee which can draft a plan for the area, and decide upon which private investments proposed for Salthill should be eligible for tax designation status.
“Salthill must be designated for an Urban Renewal Tax Scheme bringing investment and jobs back into the Salthill and Galway in general,” Mr Flannery told the Galway Advertiser. “This tax designation must be designed to help deal with the derelict buildings in Salthill.”
However Mr Flannery is adamant that urban renewal tax designations must not be allowed become “just about building more apartments”.
“Any application must be vetted and only if it meets the approval of the committee and if it will contribute to the vision of Salthill, will it be eligible for tax designation,” he said. “I am absolutely against a blanket tax relief. We need to get away from the apartment buildings mindset.”
Mr Flannery believes that any such committee should consist of representatives of residents’ associations, the tourist industry, and the business community.
“We need consensus,” he said. “We need to give Salthill an identity and vision. We need to attract tourists who are willing to spend money for a quality product.”
Among his own ambitions for Salthill is the development of a marina for yachts and sailing boats on part of the prom, and renovating Leisureland.
“We need to develop it into a world class conference centre with an Olympic size swimming pool,” he said. “It should be a redesigned building that would be iconic and instantly recognisable, in the way the Guggenheim Museum is in Bilbao.”