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‘Insufficient’ information halts hospital plans

A DECISION on plans for a €60 million private hospital in Ennis has been put on hold by the planning authority, which is now seeking additional information about the project from the developers.
Ennis Town Council were due to make a decision last week on the planning application submitted by Duesbury Limited for the development of the hospital on the site of the former Our Lady’s Psychiatric Hospital.
The planned development on the Gort Road would consist of the construction of a four-storey healthcare facility over a basement building linked to the existing 19th century protected structure.
However, the authority has deemed the information submitted with the application “insufficient” to make a complete planning assessment of the proposal.
According to the request for further information, the planning authority has “no objection in principle” to the proposed reuse and development of the existing brown-field site incorporating the protected structure. However, it goes on to state, “There are some concerns with regard to the incorporation of the proposed new build and existing structure”.
According to the planning authority, the fire officer has expressed concerns about the development, particularly in relation to the means of escape from the building to a place of safety outside, stating the travel distances are excessive. The provision of adequate access for fire appliances was also raised. The developers have been asked to submit revised proposals to address this.
The planning authority points out that in terms of the redevelopment of the old hospital building, only the western half is being utilised. “As such, there are concerns with regard to the future use and maintenance of the remainder of this building area,” the further information request states.
The developers have been asked to submit a tree survey of the site, identifying the exact location of trees to be removed, species, age, size and condition. The planning authority states the survey should also show the proposed and existing buildings on the survey plan, identify the distances to the nearest trees and incorporate proposals to protect trees during construction if necessary.
The planning authority also states the proposed development must be assessed in terms of its potential impact on both Ballyalla Lake and the Lower River Shannon, special areas of conservation (SACs). The developers have been asked to submit a Natura Impact Statement.
Proposals to address issues regarding road layout have also been requested. The planning authority notes that in relation to the planned basement car park, there are no dedicated walkways for patrons exiting their cars and wishing to access the main building. The authority also considered a dedicated pedestrian crossing point should be provided to create a link from the proposed car park in the south-western corner of the site to the main hospital building.
The developers have been asked to illustrate that adequate visibility is available from all internal junctions. Proposals for the management of the traffic layout have also been requested by the planning authority.
The planned development has proposed the provision of 265 car-parking spaces, with the local authority looking for a breakdown of this.
Details of the storage, collection and disposal of waste have also been sought by the planning authority.
In relation to the proposal to provide a basement car park, the planning authority states they have no objection in principle but there are some concerns regarding the impact of any ground works on the structural integrity of the existing hospital building.
A structural engineers’ report regarding the proposed construction methodology and proposals for the safeguarding of the existing hospital building has been requested by the planning authority.
According to Duesbury Limited, the private firm behind the plans, if given the go-ahead, the proposed development would create up to 700 jobs, 100 in construction and 600 when operational.
The hospital would provide a full range of medical and related services, including 97 in-patient beds, 30 recovery cubicles, consultants suites, administration, office accommodation, pharmacy shop, catering facilities, crèche, energy centre, plant rooms and all ancillary accommodation.


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