Children’s hospital board confident of planning permission by late 2015

TDs and Senators visit proposed site in St James’s Hospital and were briefed on progress

The board overseeing the development of the new National Children’s Hospital in the grounds of St James Hospital is confident that it will receive planning permission by the end of 2015.

The board overseeing the development of the new National Children’s Hospital in the grounds of St James Hospital is confident that it will receive planning permission by the end of 2015.

 

The board overseeing the development of the new National Children’s Hospital in the grounds of St James Hospital is confident that it will receive planning permission by the end of 2015.

A group of TDs and Senators from the Oireachtas Health Committee has visited the site of the proposed hospital in St James and were briefed on progress on the €650 million project, which will replace the three children’s hospitals currently in operation.

The all-party group, led by chair Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer and vice-chair Ciara Conway of the Labour Party, said the visit had been a very positive engagement for them.

There is now cross-party support for the project although the Committee is still lobbying for the inclusion of a purpose-built maternity hospital.

This will allow St James to become a comprehensive trilocated facility. The group were briefed by members of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, including John Pollack; Tom Costello and Professor James Brown, president of NUI, Galway.

They were also briefed by Eilish Hardiman of the Children’s Hosptial Group Board.

The design team, including architects, is now involved and Mr Pollack said that the Board expected to obtain planning permission by December 2015, and commence construction in early 2016.

The new facility is scheduled to be completed by mid-2019. Asked about the planning difficulties that forced the abandonment of the original site at the Mater Hospital, Mr Pollack pointed out that the site at St James’s was 12 acres, some three times the size of the Mater site.

Mr Costello added that the Board was confident “we can submit an application that will be in line with the planning guidelines. That is a very strong positive.”

The Committee heard that the planning papers will not include an application for the maternity hospital at this time.

Mr Pollak said it would have required tenders and the procurement of a design team and would have delayed the planning process by nine months.

However, the current designs will fully accommodate the addition of a maternity hospital on the site.

The location itself is on the Rialto side of the St James’s Hospital campus, stretching from Mount Brown to the Rialto Luas stop.

Some buildings will need to be demolished but many of those are demountable buildings or facilities that are already outdated. Detailed models have been completed across a complex range of activities including traffic, public transport, parking, staff and patient activity, inpatient requirements, outpatient services.

The new hospital has an activity projection until 2035 but all previous children’s hospitals have had a lifespan of about 65 years.

There is provision for a 20 per cent increase in activity.

Ms Conway said that would accommodate future growth in activity. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin emphasised his party’s preference that a commitment be made by Government to make it a trilocated facility.

Prof Brown said there was great potential at St James’s in terms of research and development, teaching, and industry, particularly in the biological and life science areas.