Varadkar favours early planning application for new maternity hospital at St James’s
Critics argue the Dublin site is too small to accommodate both hospitals
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar Photo:graph Gareth Chaney Collins
Outline planning permission for a new maternity hospital at St James’s may be sought at the same time as the planning application is lodged for the new national children’s hospital on the site.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has asked the board developing the children’s hospital to investigate the feasibility of seeking outline planning permission for a maternity hospital alongside the new facility.
Mr Varadkar said today this would allow all the planning issues arising from the construction of the two hospitals at St James’s to be determined by An Bord Pleanala as early as possible.
Up to now, the Government has committed itself to building the children’s hospital by 2019 and a maternity hospital some time thereafter.
Critics have argued first that the St James’s site is not suitable for the children’s hospital project because of poor access and, second, the site is too small to accommodate the hospital as well as the planned maternity hospital.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, which is developing the project, rejected these claims and said there is plenty of room on the site for both buildings.
Mr Varadkar recently met with Jack and Jill Foundation chief executive Jonathan Irwin, one of the most vocal campaigners against siting the children’s hospital at St James’s, and the Laura Lynn Foundation.
The suggestion that planning permission for a maternity hospital be sought now rather than after the construction of the children’s hospital was made by Mr Irwin at this meeting, and taken up by the Minister.
Under current plans, a planning application for the children’s hospital is expected to be lodged in the middle of next year, but this latest development could lead to some delay in this target.
The €650 million project is already years late, after an earlier plan to build the hospital at the Mater Hospital was rejected by An Bord Pleanala.
Any new maternity hospital would likely replace one of the existing three maternity hospitals in Dublin, but it is not clear at this stage whether this would be the Coombe Maternity Hospital or the Rotunda.
The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street is moving in 2019 to the St Vincent’s Hospital campus.