By Ellen O’Donoghue
Co- News Editor
NUI Galway and Galway City Council have welcomed an announcement by the Government of €4.3 million in funding for the Innovation and Creativity District in Galway.
The development of Nuns’ Island and Earl’s Island as the focal point of an Innovation and Creativity District is at the heart of Galway’s plan to connect all of the resources that give Galway its vast potential.
The Innovation and Creativity District plans to incorporate a riverside campus as part of the urban regeneration of Galway City, along with a landmark cultural and performance space.
This also comes as an acknowledgement of the University’s role as a national cultural institution and its contribution to Galway as a Capital of Culture.
The transformative plan includes a performance space to enrich the artistic life of the city and unleash the creativity of cultural engagement, a new innovation hub and riverside campus to regenerate this part of Galway and strengthen the linkages between business, research and a living city.
Furthermore, there will be an enhanced public realm for everyone who lives in or visits the city, and an expansion of the Galway to Connemara Greenway through the city and the University campus, to Moycullen, Oughterard and onto Clifden.
The Innovation and Creativity district development with consist of two distinct areas – Northern and Southern – each offering a distinct experience, atmosphere and sense of place.
The Northern area will have an academic building, to reinforce NUI Galway’s role and contribution to the city and region, a multi-purpose cultural venue, and a hotel connected to the University both physically and in terms of planned usage and integration with teaching.
The planned area will be within a sustainable public realm to support engagement with the waterways and the natural landscapes of the urban environment Galway holds.
The Southern area will have two key zones of activity.
Zone One will have a residential Waterways Village, addressing the need for more housing.
Zone Two, the redeveloped Mills, is to be the location for the Innovation centre, City Lab, NUI Galway’s Adult Education Centre, outreach and showcase venues for inspiring creativity and community engagement, alongside a host of new social spaces.
Speaking about the plans for the proposed district, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh thanked the council and described the move as a “major step forward”;
“I would like to thank Galway City Council, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and all of the stakeholders who have approved this application, a milestone in supporting this vital project in and for Galway. This represents a major step forward in the planning phase of this new Innovation and Creativity District. It supports the creation of a City Lab and landmark multi-purpose cultural and performance space that will be transformative for Galway and the wider region, both to live and work in.
“NUI Galway is committed to the public good and this development very much speaks to this ethos and to our core values of Openness, Respect, Sustainability and Excellence. With these values as our guide, the plan for Nuns’ Island which this funding supports will continue to be developed following consultation with our local community,” he continued, “Following this funding announcement we look forward to further engaging with our community to deliver the best possible project of our region, for our world”.
NUI Galway and Galway City Council plan to engage fully with all stakeholders.
An initial public consultation has already taken place and further consultations with stakeholders will continue throughout the process.
Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, spoke of his gratitude to those who have worked on the project, describing it as a “fantastic outcome” for Galway City;
“I am very grateful to the fantastic team of people who collaborated and worked in such a committed way on this project. This is a fantastic outcome for Galway City Council and the City and this scheme will be truly transformative for the city and the region. We look forward to working with NUI Galway and all stakeholders on plans to develop a world-class Innovation and Creativity District for Galway.”, he said.