Why Galway is delaying a hotel's expansion plans

Ireland's hotel scene is ripe for investment and development—but not all cities are eager to rush into new projects. 

For example, the Galway City Council has delayed plans for redevelopment works at a Maldron Hotel that would turn the property into a 149-guestroom hotel with modern conference rooms. Planners reportedly believe that the renovation would be "an overdevelopment" of the 1.3-acre site.

Pat McCann’s Lintal Commercial Ltd (part of the Dalata Hotels Group) had sought permission for extensive works at the hotel, which the company purchased in 2014 for €10.5 million.

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According to the application, Lintal is looking to turn empty retail units on the ground floor of the hotel into meeting rooms that will boost the city's appeal for conferences. On the second floor, the existing spa and offices would become guestrooms, and a new gym and fitness center would be built in the basement. 

“This application is made in the context of the recent recovery in the hotel sector across the country, the extent of which suggests that hotels in the country’s cities are near capacity during peak times.

“A recent report by the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation noted that the demand for hotel accommodation within many Irish cities is close to supply and that a scarcity of hotel rooms threatens to harm the tourist sector. This research has further suggested that the limited availability of hotel rooms in Irish cities has the potential to cause a bottleneck that is likely to damage the full potential of Ireland’s economic growth.

“There is significant merit in the development of new hotel accommodation within Galway City. Such accommodation, for which there is an urgent need, will support the continued growth of the city’s tourism sector and its overall economic development.”

But while the application makes a strong case for the redevelopment, City Council planners have argued that the proposals are above the permitted plot ratios in the current City Development Plan, and would therefore represent an overdevelopment of the site. 

The Dalata Group now has six months to respond to the request for further information, or the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.

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