Children’s hospital construction to use council land for three more years

Dublin City Council to extend lease for land designated for local park

A worker seen during construction of the National Children Hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

A worker seen during construction of the National Children Hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board is to be granted a three-year extension for the use of Dublin City Council land, in an effort to complete the children’s hospital development.

The board was originally granted a five-year licence from the council in 2016 to use land earmarked for a new city park, as part of the construction of the paediatric facility.

It had been expected that the requirement for the council’s land would have ended within the five-year period, with the licence due to expire this coming September. However, the board sought an extension to July 2024 due to the delays in the construction of the new hospital.

The land, a plot of just under 1,000sq m to the south of the hospital site beside the Rialto Luas stop, has been used for a temporary road to facilitate development, with the council receiving €100 a year in licence fees.

Three years ago the council began developing plans for a linear park running through Rialto along the Luas line from just east of the Fatima Luas stop to Suir Road bridge in the west. The council last year said it planned to complete the project in phases, with the central section, which runs past the hospital site, due to be completed in 2022 “alongside the opening of the hospital”, it said.

Local residents said the hospital construction was unnecessarily delaying the development of the entire park.

“We are concerned this development isn’t moving ahead as we felt we could expect it to back when we began consulting,” Rialto resident’s representative Carol Ballantine told councillors on Wednesday.

“We are really concerned about the phasing of the development of the park with small piecemeal development. We really don’t see any reason why the complete development should be delayed by the hospital construction.”

The group was supportive of the hospital construction and wanted to see it completed, but Ms Ballantine said, that facility should be making a contribution to the local amenity, rather than be detracting from it.

The space designated for the park was “dominated at present by the construction of the hospital and at times completely inaccessible to us”, she said, and the delays in the park’s development had left it “overgrown and littered” with evidence of drug use.

“It is located in one of the most densely populated parts of the city with one of the lowest availability of green space per person, less than 1m of public green space available per person.”

Residents wanted to see the “somewhat degraded and dangerous space that it is today turned into a safe, natural destination”.

The chairman of the council committee for the area, Independent councillor Vincent Jackson said councillors were “not deliriously happy” about the extension to the lease “but the hospital has to be completed”. He said he hoped the hospital would be “very sympathetic to contributing substantially” to the development of the park.