Plan for new children’s hospital

 

Sir, – Independent paediatric specialists have requested that Minister for Health James Reilly reconsider the South Circular Road site as a more suitable location for the National Children’s Hospital than the St James’s Hospital site (May 20th). They make a very sound case for the 6.2 hectare site, which directly adjoins the Coombe Hospital, but the argument is even more compelling.

The Clear/Martin report prepared for the Minister for October 2012 found the planning risk at the South Circular Road site to be “low” but this was based on the misconception that “hospital use” was not among the land uses allowable. In fact, the site’s predominant zoning (Z14) permits the same medical uses as are permitted on the St James’s site (Z15). In other words, the planning risk at the South Circular Road site is even lower than that suggested in the report for the Minister.

In contrast, the planning risk associated with the St James’s site is entirely different. The Clear/Martin report states, “the nature and location of the site pose a number of planning issues which would need to be resolved if the planning risk is to be reduced”, suggesting the planning risk would be “moderate” if the site area for the proposed hospital were to be enlarged from 2.44 hectares to 3.5 hectares. But even such additional land would only allow very limited, if any, room for future expansion of the planned children’s hospital. In the planning of any new hospital this is surely unacceptable.

To assuage the concerns of the New Crumlin Hospital Group chairman (May 22nd) regarding further delay, it should be made clear that there is no suggestion that the decision in relation to citing the national children’s hospital on the St James’s campus be changed – simply that the campus be expanded to include the South Circular Road site (it has already been earmarked by St James’s Hospital for ancillary medical activities).

The lesson of the attempt to locate the children’s hospital at the Mater site is clear. The site was too small and was turned down by the planning appeals board. Here, again, we already know the preferred site is too small. Why on earth would Dr Reilly risk repeating a similar outcome when a more suitable site almost twice the size, on an expanded campus and carrying negligible planning risk is available? – Yours, etc,

VALERIN O’SHEA,

Member of the Dublin City

Council Strategic Policy

Committee

Economic Development,

Planning and International

Affairs,

Sandymount Avenue,

Dublin 4.