Developer offers children's hospital site at old Phoenix Park racecourse


PROPERTY DEVELOPER Flynn and O’Flaherty is offering an eight-acre site at the former Phoenix Park racecourse free of charge as a suitable location for the proposed national children’s hospital.

The offer was conveyed yesterday to Minister for Health James Reilly and the review group he has set up to examine options for the project following An Bord Pleanála’s rejection of plans to build it on the Mater hospital site in Dublin city centre.

The review group, chaired by former Health Service Executive chairman Frank Dolphin, is examining a number of options for the children’s hospital project, and is due to report back in mid-May on the “pros and cons” of each location, including the Mater site.

Flynn and O’Flaherty said its site on Navan Road is located “minutes from the M50” via the N3, and is thus linked directly to the national road network. It is serviced by a suburban rail station and a quality bus corridor with eight bus routes.

The site forms part of an area of 120 acres zoned for development, with planning permission already secured for a hotel, offices and apartments rising to nine storeys. Much of the rest of the former racecourse has been built on.

“The site, if chosen, will have the capacity to develop a world-class children’s hospital [with] in-patient and day-care beds, an emergency department, operating theatres and, crucially, the research laboratories and learning facilities to meet the world-class test.”

Asked about one of the criteria, that it should be “co-located” with an adult hospital, a spokesman said the Navan Road site would be only “nine minutes to the Mater” by road in one direction and also close to James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown.

“The cost of construction of the proposed hospital on the site, based on planning permission already established from two storeys to nine storeys and the cost of provision of car parking, would be a fraction of the cost of development in a built-up area,” the developer said.

“The site can be readily accessed by public and private transport from Dublin city or, via the M50, from any part of the country,” according to Flynn and O’Flaherty. It also noted that 95 trains per day serve the adjacent Navan Road Parkway rail station during the week.

The fact that An Bord Pleanála had already approved an “appropriate scale and mass of development” on the site would “ease the way to establishing planning permission for the new hospital”, according to the brochure. “This de-risks the possibility of planning refusal.”

Flynn and O’Flaherty said the hospital could be built on a phased basis or as a single operation, and envisaged that it could get planning permission by October 2013, with a view to completing the project in 2016.