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Our Lady's Hospital Photograph by John Kelly.

Councillors urge delisting of key Ennis site to help development

THE former Our Lady’s Hospital in Ennis is set come under new ownership, with confirmation the development site is sale agreed. Ennis councillors are now urging that the historic site be re-zoned, and parts of the property de-listed as a protected structure, in a bid to realise its full development potential.

Selling agent DNG O’Sullivan Hurley have confirmed the property is sale agreed and is currently going through the legal process, though they would not reveal the name of the prospective buyer.

Calling for its rezoning and delisting, Councillor Pat Daly told the monthly meeting of the Ennis Municipal District that the former hospital has been a “hindrance” to any kind of development at the key site on the Gort Road.

He recalled previous plans, including a hotel and private hospital, did not come to fruition at what he described as “a prime site in the town of Ennis”. He urged the municipal district, with the support of his fellow councillors, to make a submission to the County Development Plan requesting that Our Lady’s Hospital site would be zoned Commercial, Residential, Educational and Recreational.

“It’s essential that parts of the old derelict hospital would need to be de-listed, in order to develop its full potential and realise its commercial value,” he added.

Mayor of Ennis, Councillor Ann Norton outlined she has met with the party interested in purchasing the site which she described as an “eye-sore”.

“It is such a shame it has been allowed to go into such disrepair, but the fact that it is a listed building means it would take serious money, and they would have to be monitored while works are going on. That puts a lot of developers off.”

She added she is hopeful that there will be a positive development at Our Lady’s in the coming years with the potential of a new owner.

“It is quite a valuable site for the town because so much could be put on site, housing, schools, a shopping area, there is huge potential.”

Councillor Mary Howard commented that development of the site is “hugely complicated” adding it is incumbent on the councillors “to make it less so and make it attractive to those willing to invest”.

She said that de-listing part of the site is “the most important thing” which could be done to allow for investment and development there.

“We need to grab this and do whatever we can to ensure developers can do something with it.” She pointed to the pride local residents take in the area, saying the former hospital “let’s the whole road down”.

“It’s dangerous, we’ve had illegal encampments, dumping, drug taking there. Now there is a good opportunity with the development plan to make using this site as uncomplicated as possible.”

Candace Ingram, A/Senior Executive Planner outlined that The Draft Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029 was placed on public display on December 10, 2021 which commenced a period of public consultation up to March 28, 2022.

She stated, “Written submission and observations can be made to the Planning Department on any of the ten volumes of the draft development plan. Volume 3a relates specifically to the Ennis Municipal District Area and the settlements within it including Ennis, and includes a written statement and settlement zoning map for each settlement.

“Volume 4 of the Draft Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029 is the Record of Protected Structures which includes all existing Protected Structures in the County as well as a number of proposed additions, deletions and modifications to the listing.

“An essential part of the consultation process is to encourage public engagement in the development plan process and to this end the Planning Department is promoting the process through various mediums including consultation events which are planned for a number of locations around the County including Ennis, which is due to be held on the January 26 between 4-8pm in the Scout Hall beside the Parish Office on Station Road (in accordance with Covid 19 health and safety guidelines).

“At the end of the public consultation process all submissions will be considered and a response and recommendation will be set out in the Chief Executive’s Report which will be issued to the Elected Members for their consideration.”

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