Hospital board seeks tenders ahead of planning approval

 

TENDERS ARE being sought for a “design and build” contract for the controversial children’s hospital on the Mater site in Dublin at least a month in advance of An Bord Pleanála’s decision on whether to grant planning permission for it.

The notice was published on the Government’s public procurement website before Christmas on behalf of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, setting a deadline of noon on February 10th next for tenders to be submitted.

“The successful applicant will be appointed as design and build contractor for the new Children’s Hospital of Ireland with responsibility to design, construct, commission and complete the works in accordance with the works requirements,” it said.

An Bord Pleanála held an oral hearing on the €650 million project over 10 days, ending on November 3rd last. It has said it would issue its decision by January 26th, after receiving the report of Una Cross, the planning inspector who presided at the hearing.

The proposed development would rise to a height of 16 storeys above a four-level basement car park, with a significant impact on Dublin’s skyline. At nearly 74 metres, it would be significantly taller than Liberty Hall and nearly eight times the width of Siptu’s headquarters.

Businessman Harry Crosbie, who chairs the hospital development board, said yesterday the advertisement was “just a preliminary sweep of the market to see what’s out there, given the level of uncertainty about the viability of contractors”.

He told The Irish Timesit was “all subject to planning permission” being granted by An Bord Pleanála for the project.

“The design part of it is already done [by O’Connell Mahon Architects and NBBJ] and the contractor would be expected to buy into it”.

Mr Crosbie said the hospital board was seeking a fixed-price contract for construction, “including fit-out”. It was also launching a fundraising campaign among the Irish diaspora to generate some €75 million needed to bridge a funding gap and complete the project.

But Valerin O’Shea, who represented the Blend Residents Association at the oral hearing, said it was “shocking” that tenders were being sought in advance of An Bord Pleanála’s decision on “this farcical project”, for which there was no valid planning or medical grounds.

An Taisce said the Department of Health was “fully aware” of the problems with its own proposal and was now “displaying rank amateurism and utter contempt for the planning process” in permitting the hospital board to issue a “wholly premature” contract notice.

It said An Bord Pleanála could refuse permission for “a whole host of reasons [including] the failure to carry out a strategic assessment as required under EU law, or because such an overpowering building would compromise the vital tourism asset that is Georgian Dublin”.