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Westport hostel gets go-ahead

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LOCATION An Bord Pleanála has approved planning permission for a hostel adjacent to The Railway Tavern in Westport.

Anton McNulty


A NEW hostel designed to sleep close to 100 people looks set to be developed in Westport after An Bord Pleanála rejected residents’ concerns.
The proposed three-story hostel – to be known as The Old Steelworks Hostel – will be located on Altamont Street, between the railway station and the former Railway Tavern Pub.
The hostel will consist of eleven bedrooms consisting of a mixture of family, mixed and female dorms, with a total capacity for 99 guests. It will also have a self-catering kitchen, lounge and outdoor-amenity area.

Appeal
The development by Westport-based Gibbons Building and Civil Engineering Ltd includes the demolition of an existing vacant industrial building.
Mayo County Council granted planning permission for the project in August, but the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) by local residents concerned it would lead to anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the area.
In their appeal, over 20 residents stated that the area was inhabited by many elderly people and that they feared that the hostel would lead to increased noise pollution late at night from patrons of the hostel returning after socialising in town. They also highlighted the increased potential for anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
However, in his report, ABP inspector Colm McLoughlin stated that the proposed development would make a ‘positive contribution to the town’. He said he is satisfied that ‘the proposed use would be broadly in compliance with the land-use zoning objectives for the area, would complement neighbouring land uses and would have negligible potential to impact on residential amenities’.
“A condition to restrict noise levels potentially emanating from the proposed facility would suitably protect the amenities of residential property in the vicinity,” he added.
Concerns were also raised regarding traffic safety and parking and the impact on the architectural heritage of the area. However, Mr McLoughlin stated he was satisfied that the development would neither negatively impact traffic nor ‘detract from the character, setting or special interest of the Westport Town Centre Architectural Conservation Area’.
He recommended that planning permission would be granted for the development subject to conditions and this was accepted by the board of ABP.

Changes
The developers Gibbons Building and Civil Engineering Ltd had initially sought permission to construct a 799.2 square metre, two-and-a-half storey, nine-bedroom hostel with ancillary services and parking.
The architect for the West Mayo Municipal District recommended changes to the scale and massing of the building, especially the second floor, the omission of on-site parking and the retention of the entire stone wall along the site frontage.
Changes to the plan saw the floor area increase and the number of bedrooms rise from nine to eleven. The proposed vehicular entrance was also omitted and replaced with a pedestrian gateway leading onto a paved amenity and bike-parking area.
Mayo County Council stated that as the proposed development, which is located adjacent to both the railway station and the Greenway, is ‘an ideal location for a tourist hostel’.