New national children’s hospital at St James’s granted planning

Varadkar says ‘short of an asteroid hitting planet’ €700m hospital will be built by 2020

December 1st, 2015: An animation shows the plans currently in place for the proposed children's hosiptal to be built on the site of the current St James’s Hospital.

 

Planning permission has been granted for the building of the new national children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

An Bord Pleanala has granted the 10-year permission subject to 17 conditions, none of which are believed to be overly stringent.

The board confirmed the decision of planning inspector Tom Rabbitte in favour of the project and relayed the decision to affected parties this morning.

Acting Minister for Health Leo Varadkar described the decision to give the go-ahead to the €700 million-plus project as “absolutely fantastic news”. “Great news for all the children of Ireland,” he tweeted.

Speaking later on RTÉ radio Mr Varadkar said the funding for the hospital was in place and “short of an asteroid hitting the planet” the NCH will be built by 2020.

Sources say the board’s decision means the hospital project is finally likely to begin construction after years of false starts and delays in various locations.

“There’s nothing in there that a developer wouldn’t have expected,” said one source.

It follows a three-week hearing presided over by the State’s pre-eminent planning authority last November which heard submissions from designers of the new paediatric facility and complaints from some local residents who did not want the development to go ahead.

Construction work for the project will start shortly and the hospital is expected to become fully operational by 2020 following its completion in 2019.

This will lead to the eventual closure of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin as well as the existing National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght, and the consolidation of paediatric services at the St James’ site.

The new children’s hospital will also operate new satellite campuses in Blanchardstown and Tallaght which are also expected to be completed in the coming years.

Welcoming today’s announcement by An Bórd Pleanála, Children’s Hospital Group chief executive Eilísh Hardiman termed it a “watershed day for children”.

Construction of the project is set to begin this summer with the clearance of existing buildings on the site at the Rialto end of the St James’s Hospital campus. The new building will be seven storeys high, and will accommodate 380 single inpatient rooms and 42 critical care beds.

The plan to build the hospital at St James’s was strongly opposed by a number of groups, including the Jack & Jill Foundation for sick children and the New Children’s Hospital Alliance led by a number of retired consultants.

They argued access traffic and space were major drawbacks in St James’s and proposed the hospital should be built instead on a green-field site adjacent to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.