Call for planner on review group for children's hospital

 

THE INCLUSION of a planner on the expert review group on the National Children’s Hospital has been called for by the Irish Planning Institute.

Its president, Brendan Allen, said the body representing professional planners was “very concerned that a professional planner may not be included in this group”.

He said the issue arose after reports the review group to be appointed next week would include members who have architectural and clinical expertise.

Mr Allen said Bord Pleanála decisions, in particular the recent determinations on the National Children’s Hospital and the Slane bypass, “demonstrated why spatial planners should be involved from the outset so the key strategic planning issues are determined before the detailed design begins”.

The planning appeals board refused permission for the bypass and the hospital development.

Separately yesterday, Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said the way the Mater hospital site was rejected for the children’s hospital raised significant questions for Bord Pleanála.

“We have to look at the processes deployed by the strategic infrastructure division of Bord Pleanála.

“The whole way the planning worked out on this for me raises huge issues and questions about strategic infrastructure planning and the approach.”

She was speaking as she launched a book on surgery for newborns at the National Children’s Research Centre at Crumlin Hospital, Dublin.

Ms Fitzgerald said the decision “at the end that the planning doesn’t fit” was difficult. “You would imagine that we would have been able to get an indication early on.”

She acknowledged much work had been done in relation to the Mater site and said the Government now had “no attachment to any site” for the proposed National Children’s Hospital but she said that whatever site was now selected the timetable of completion by 2015 or 2016 could be kept.

Ms Fitzgerald also called for all agencies involved in childcare to back the referendum on the rights of children when the wording is published “in the near future”.

She said the referendum timeframe was “yet to be decided” but reiterated it would be this year. Asked if it would be in the last quarter of the year, she replied, “You could say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.”

Ms Fitzgerald was speaking after she launched Newborn Surgery by Prof Prem Puri, president of the privately funded National Children’s Research Centre.