University and hospital buy land


University College Cork and the Mercy University Hospital yesterday announced details of a €20 million acquisition of a 12.5-acre site from Irish Distillers Ltd near Cork city centre.

The purchase will facilitate the expansion of both the hospital and the university through the provision of teaching and laboratory facilities.

The area off the North Mall, across the north channel of the Lee from UCC's facility at the Maltings and the Mercy Hospital at Grenville Place, will be developed jointly by the university and the hospital in consultation with Cork City Council.

The council will construct a footbridge to link the area with the existing UCC facility at the Maltings.

The Minister for Health, Mr Martin, said he was pleased to announce €10.5 million in funding from his Department towards the Mercy University Hospital's share of the purchase.

The UCC president, Prof Gerry Wrixon, said the acquisition of the site was consistent with UCC's need to increase its land bank in the vicinity of the existing campus. The move would give the university a much better balance in terms of its east-west development as it would move it closer to the city centre.

The chairman of the board of governors at Mercy University Hospital, Mr Des Murphy, said the acquisition of the Distillery Field would enable the 349-bed hospital to grow in a manner that would complement other hospitals in the area, including through the provision of a new urology day unit and outpatient centre.

UCC and MUH will now embark on consultation with Cork City Council to draw up an overall plan for the site taking account of the area's rich heritage as a distillery and bottling plant since the 18th century.

The plan - which is expected to take several months to complete - will outline what facilities are proposed and how they will be accommodated.