Decision on new national children's hospital deferred

 

‘Depth and complexity’ of case blamed for delay

AN BORD Pleanála has deferred a decision in relation to the new National Children’s Hospital which was due this week because of the complexity of the case.

Interested parties had expected a decision by Thursday, 18 weeks since the end of the oral hearings into the project, which will be one of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken in the coming years.

A spokesman for An Bord Pleanála said parties to the project would be notified today that the decision had been deferred.

He estimated it would be “about a month” before the final decision is made.

He explained the “depth and complexity” of the case and also the fact there were only four board members at present meant a decision could not be made by Thursday.

An Bord Pleanála was reduced to just four members when two architects and a former senior planner were not reappointed after their terms ended.

The €650 million hospital, which will be the biggest ever built in Ireland, was referred to An Bord Pleanála following a series of public hearings.

The site has been dogged with controversy from the beginning with many parties concluding its co-location on the Mater hospital site was too restrictive, poorly accessible and out of character with the Georgian architecture in the area.

At 68 metres high, it will be taller than Liberty Hall and will dominate the area.

However, the hospital was approved by the previous Fianna Fáil government in 2006 and was given the go-ahead by its successor in July following an independent expert review.

The review, which was carried out by clinicians and chief executives of major children’s hospitals in Britain, the US and Australia, concluded unanimously that the Mater hospital site was the best.

Among those groups who have opposed the new development are an organisation called Blend, which represents local residents; An Taisce; the Irish Georgian Society; the Heritage Council, Tallaght Hospital Action Group; and the New Children’s Hospital Alliance.

Developer Harry Crosbie, the chairman of the new hospital’s development board, said they were all “geared up” one way or the other for the decision when it comes.

If the decision is a yes, he said they would immediately proceed with a worldwide drive to raise €75 million to fit out the hospital.

He believed the building of a world-class children’s hospital was the most important public project ever undertaken in Ireland.