Over 2,300 jobs to be created by new children’s hospital

St James’s Hospital development will generate opportunities for local area - report

More than 2,300 new jobs will be created during the construction phase of the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) on the St James’s Hospital campus in Dublin.

An independent report by EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young, said the development would create opportunities for residents and businesses in Dublin 8 and parts of Dublin 12.

The report, titled Harnessing the Potential, was published on Tuesday ahead of the first planning hearing on the application for the development, to be held by An Bord Pleanála this Friday.

The application was lodged in August last.

The preliminary hearing is in advance of the substantive oral hearing, which will start on November 30th and is expected to last between two to three weeks.

An Bord Pleanála confirmed it had received 119 observations about the proposed development.

The authority will make its decision on whether to approve or reject the planning permission by mid-February next year.

If it approves the plan, construction will start in March 2016 and finish in 2019.

The hospital is expected be fully operational by 2020.

The EY report has calculated that almost 2,000 construction jobs and 300 jobs in services would be created during the four-year build.

The Community Benefit Oversight Group, which was set up to maximise the benefits from the €650 million investment for the local community, commissioned the report.

Gordon Jeyes, chair of the group, said that "guaranteed" apprenticeships and training places were important to the local community.

“We want to bridge the gap between the needs of the construction, needs of operating a hospital, and the skills and untapped potential between people of Dublin,” he said.

Mr Jeyes said the project was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for the community.

“We are building a world-class facility here in the centre of Dublin,” he said.

“It will bring an enormous increase of economic activity in the area.”

Mr Jeyes said the group wanted to simplify the processes for people to take advantage of working opportunities.

“It’s about making sure there are clear pathways . . . to make sure our talented Dublin people are available to take these opportunities,” he said.

“And to consider how do we prepare our young people for these opportunities in the future. We don’t know the jobs of the future yet but we have to be ready.

“We’ve got to think big. We’re taking it from the scruff of the neck from the start.”

The national hospital was first proposed 22 years ago.

Much of the subsequent delay has been due to disagreement on where to locate the €650 million scheme.

In 2012, An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for the project for the Mater campus site in Dublin.

The board said then that the proposed development would “constitute overdevelopment”.

Gains from development

Lorcan Birthistle, chief executive of St James's Hospital, said there would be economic and social gains from the development.

He said the hospital had a reasonably strong relationship with the local community but it “could be stronger”.

“We work better when we work together,” he said.

“The vision we have for this campus is truly an exciting one.”

The NCH’s 3,700 employees would join the 4,000 staff from St James’s Hospital on the medical campus.

Aoife Hannan, from St. Michael's Estate and Inchicore Regeneration Board, said the scheme was a "fantastic opportunity" for local areas.

“There are four regeneration areas around St Michael’s Estate. The reason they are here is because of the level of deprivation in Dublin 8,” she said.

“The job is to make sure the supply is there to meet the employment demands of the project.

“It gives us four years to prepare people. It terms of the construction phase, there are already construction courses going on that have been set up by the local employment service.”

Ms Hannan said she understood people’s concerns about issues related to the project, such as traffic disruptions.

“The hospital, from our side, have been open to dealing with their concerns . . . hopefully they will be ironed out.

“We are happy with how the hospital are engaging with the community.”

John Pollock, project director for the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, said the plan was to ensure the hospital will positively change the lives of people in the short- and long-term.

Eilísh Hardiman, chief executive for the Children’s Hospital Group, said the project would have a “positive impact” on the area for generations to come.

“We want to be a good neighbour,” she said.

The seven-storey NCH building will have 380 single in-patient rooms, 42 beds in the critical care unit and 18 neonatal critical care units.

The full EY report is available online.newchildrenshospital.ie/publications/

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is an Irish Times journalist