Council backs maternity hospital move despite building height

Proposed hospital at St Vincent’s breaches height regulations for Merrion area

The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to St Vincent's Hospital is being supported by Dublin City Council, even though the new building breaks height rules for the site.

The Health Service Executive in March applied to An Bord Pleanála for the €300 million move, following the resolution of an 18-month dispute between the two hospitals over governance of the new facility.

However, the announcement the following month that sole ownership of the hospital would be given to a healthcare group owned by the Sisters of Charity sparked public protest, and resignations from the Holles Street hospital board and the project board planning the move.

Earlier this month Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the new hospital will have full clinical independence.


Submissions on the plans for the hospital must be lodged with An bord Pleanála by 5.30pm Monday.

The board last March wrote to the council seeking its views on the development. In its response the council said the new building would exceed the height permitted on the site by more than 10m.

The site is designated for “low-rise development” under the city development plan which came into force last year.

“Under current plan policy commercial buildings up to 24m in height are permissible in this area subject to compliance with all other development plan provisions,” the council said.

“At its highest point the proposed hospital will rise to a maximum overall height of approximately 35m,” it said. “The proposed height of the hospital building is, therefore, above the maximum building height permitted.”

However, the council said there may be “instances where greater height” can be considered. These instances included developments in low-rise areas which already had a building taller than the permitted maximum height.

Three buildings on the St Vincent’s site already exceed the maximum permitted heights for the area: the clinical services building at just under 36m, the Nutley Wing at 40m and the private hospital building at more than 45m tall.

In assessing the proposal, the council said it had given “careful consideration” to the local context and to the potential impact of the proposed development on surrounding homes and had concluded “the proposed heights are considered appropriate, and are not deemed to be detrimental to the amenity of the surrounding area”.

Due to the presence of existing taller buildings the council had determined that the application did not contravene the city development plan.

However it said, even if the board determined that the building did not comply with the city development plan, it could still grant permission for the hospital, due to its veto powers under the planning acts.

The board is expected to deliver a decision in September.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times