High Court reporters
The owner of a Galway leisure centre wants to bring a High Court challenge over a decision to grant planning permission to convert a retail building on the city's Fairgreen Road into a gaming centre.
Paul Freeney, of Seapoint Leisure Centre, Salthill, seeks to bring a judicial review against Bord Pleanála over its decision last November to grant permission for the gaming centre conversion to Cwc Fairgreen Ltd.
The board gave Cwc the go ahead to change the use of the ground floor of Fairgreen House from retail to gaming, including internal reconfiguration and external signage. Galway City Council had previously refused permission and Cwc had appealed.
Mr Freeney wants the High Court to quash the decision claiming, among other things, the board erred in law in its consideration of the application. It is also claimed there was a failure to have regard to the council's decision and to the provisions of the Galway City Development Plan.
The development plan zones the area for city centre activities and particularly those which reserve the city centre as a dominant commercial area, it is claimed. There is a presumption against the establishment of specific retail operators in the city centre and those that may have a negative impact or discourage other retail developments in the city centre, it is also claimed.
The council, in rejecting the Cwc plan, said that by reason of its size, location and extensive double frontage, the gaming arcade would have to be artificially screened off, resulting in two "dead/inactive frontage" areas - 20 metres and 25 metres in length - on the Fairgreen Road.
The council also said it would have the potential to result in noise and disturbance to overhead apartments in the building itself and for a student accommodation building opposite it.
Among the other grounds of the legal challenge are that the board acted contrary to the requirement to carry out screening for an appropriate assessment in accordance with the EU Habitats directive.
When the case came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Wednesday, the judge asked how the Habitats directive applies to a gaming arcade. Michael O'Donnell SC, for Mr Freeney, said this related to the building works that would be carried out and its impact on adjoining Galway Bay.
The judge said he could see substantial grounds for granting leave to bring the judicial review challenge on planning grounds, but he was only prepared to do so after hearing from the board.
He said the board should be put on notice of the application, as should Cwc and Galway City Council which are notice parties, and the case could come back next month.