herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Planning laws may have to change

THE Government was today considering changing the planning laws to accommodate proposals for the new national children's hospital.

An Bord Pleanala derailed plans for the €650m development on the Mater site yesterday -- saying the proposals would damage Dublin's skyline.

A raft of ministers reinforced the Government's commitment to the hospital with Enda Kenny claiming that the "children of the country deserve no less".

Mr Kenny said that €450m had already been ring-fenced to construct the hospital.



RULING

It has emerged that one of the options on the table is to change the planning laws which could put the proposal back on track.

An expert group will now look at the viability of the move -- which may see An Bord Pleanala consulting with developers while projects are being developed.

If the process was adapted it would mean the planning watchdog could assist in ensuring projects like the National Children's Hospital do not fall at the final hurdle.

It also emerged today that Environment Minister Phil Hogan could look at changing the Dublin City Development Plan to water down the importance of keeping the capital's skyline unscathed.

An Bord Pleanala focused on the potential effect the "dominant structure" would have on the skyline in its ruling.

However, the Irish Planning Institute said today that changing the development plan was "highly unlikely".

"The key issue is to assess whether the objective of protecting and enhancing the skyline of the inner city would be protected, to change that objective would be very unlikely because it's a very positive and I think worthwhile objective that is stated in the development plan and is unlikely to be taken out," according to a spokesperson.

Health Minister James Reilly will also consider reapplying on the inner-city site but on a "smaller scale".

A new proposal for the site is set to be drawn up which could see the removal of training and other facilities to reduce its size.

"I will fix this. I will find a solution," the minister said.

hnews@herald.ie

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