Saturday 22 October 2016

Planning team reach out to locals as application for €650m building delayed

Artist's impression of national children's hospital
Artist's impression of national children's hospital

THE long-awaited National Children's Hospital is facing yet another delay as the board has pushed back its submission date for planning permission.

It had been expected that the application would be lodged at the end of July.

However, a final round of consultation with stakeholders is underway, meaning that it will be next month before planning permission is lodged.

Tom Costello, chairman of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board emailed planning chief Jim Keoghan on May 20 and referenced the planning deadline.

"We plan to lodge planning submission with An Bord Pleanala at the end of July," he wrote.

Now a spokeswoman for the board confirmed to the Herald that this week and next will be taken up with consultations with various stakeholders before the plans are submitted next month.

The €650m hospital, first announced a decade ago, has been set with a series of delays.

The most significant of these setbacks saw the original planning application to build the hospital at the Mater Hospital rejected by An Bord Pleanala in 2012.

A decision was later taken to build the hospital at the St James's Hospital site on the Southside instead.

Residents, hospital workers and all others who were consulted in the design phase will be shown revised designs in the coming days before the submission to the planning authority is made.

On Tuesday night public representatives from the Dublin 8 area met with hospital bosses as part of this consultation.

Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh said that she was "happy with the level of engagement" that those behind the project had carried out.

"They have gone above and beyond what I expected," she said.

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan said that the plans were "impressive".

Parking and traffic congestion were issues that were on the table during the meeting.

Several local residents groups have expressed concern about the fact that the mammoth build will also now be co-located with a maternity hospital at the site, which they fear could lead to further traffic problems in the area.

A traffic management report is not likely to be made available until planning is submitted.

A site has also been selected in nearby Brookfield for vehicles carrying building materials.

That is to avoid unnecessary construction traffic around the hospital during the building, Ms Moynihan said.

When planning is submitted a dedicated website will go live that will allow people to log on to view all relevant documents.

The hospital will be seven storeys high at its tallest point and has been designed with features such as lower windows to facilitate small children and a rooftop garden.

Another aspect of the hospital explained at the meeting was that it will be a digitised hospital, meaning that people will be able to log-on and manage their own appointments.

A tablet device will also be given to parents while children are in the hospital to ensure that they don't miss their appointments.

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