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Proposed hospital site needs to be rezoned

REZONING of a site off Shanaway Road, Ennis is necessary to allow for planning permission to be granted to a new 100-bed private hospital.

The planning department of Clare County Council is recommending the grant of planning permission for the proposed €40m private hospital on the Shanaway Road, about half a mile from the Claureen Roundabout.
But the council has also ruled that the proposal by John Stack, a builder from Lisdoonvarna and Pat Bonner from Donegal, materially contravenes the Ennis and Environs Development Plan, and therefore necessitates a rezoning motion to go through.
The plan is to be put before Clare County Council at its October meeting. For the material contravention to the Development Plan to be passed enabling the hospital project to go ahead, 24 of the 32 councillors will have to vote in favour of the rezoning.
Nora Kaye, acting director of service at the council’s planning department said the council is in favour of the private hospital plan but nothing can be decided until the rezoning issue is resolved.
“The site of the proposed hospital is currently zoned for residential use. It needs to be rezoned for the hospital to go ahead. It will not include any other area of the Ennis and Environs Plan, purely the proposed site of the hospital,” she explained.
She added that such a development is provided for in the 2006 Development Plan.
Prior to the material contravention being put to the council in October, an advertisement informing the public of the notice to seek a material contravention to the development plan was publicised in August. There is also a four-week period of public consultation, which will end on September 21.
She also said that the planning department intend to grant planning permission, subject to the councillors’ vote in favour of the rezoning of the site, after the developers reduced the scale of the plan.
A submission by the developers’ consultants states the overall proposal has been reduced by a very significant degree with an overall reduction in the building footprint, floor area, height and massing.
Up to 40 beds have been omitted from the plans for the new private hospital.
The original planning application sought planning approval for 120 inpatient beds and an additional 20 outpatient and daycare beds at Shanaway Road, Ennis. They originally estimated it could cost up to €60m to construct and fully equip the new private hospital. The submission of revised plans to Clare County Council sought planning for 73 inpatient beds, seven gynae/cardiology beds and 20 day surgery beds combining to a total of 100 beds.
The original planning application was lodged with Clare County Council before Christmas seeking permission for the complex on land at Shanaway Road.
If planning permission is granted, the applicants predict that over 100 construction jobs will be created and between 400 and 500 full-time jobs will be directly generated once it is due to become fully operational in 2012.
The proposed complex would provide a full range of medical and healthcare services including general surgery, urgent care, cardiology, radiation, oncology, cosmetic surgery four operating theatres and endoscopy. Other related services will include physiotherapy, laboratory, x-ray, radiology, MRI/PET scans, ECG, mammogram, renal dialysis, ultrasound, pharmacy and dental facilities.
The local planning department made 23 individual requests for further information including the submission of a flood impact assessment, a revised road safety audit and proposals to upgrade the N85 Shanaway Road junction.
According to planning documents submitted by Galway-based planning consultants, McCarthy Keville O’Sullivan, the overall floor area has been reduced by 26%, one of the proposed five storeys has been removed and the site area has increased by 6%. The consultants stated the closest neighbours of the development confirmed in writing their support of the hospital as originally proposed in a letter dated December 18, 2009 and argued the revised proposals would further minimise any potential impact on local residential amenity and character.
Following extensive consultation with the council, a design for the roundabout to access the proposed hospital site has been prepared in accordance with a further information request.
A Traffic and Transport Assessment submitted to the council on behalf of the developers concluded that the proposed development would be adequately accommodated by a single priority type junction on the Shanaway Road and that a roundabout type junction would accommodate all traffic up to the year 2026 at the intersection of the Shanaway Road and the N85 Lahinch Road.
It was also concluded from this study and the associated independent Stage One Road Safety Audit that the proposed development might be accommodated safely on the surrounding network.
One Ennis landowner, Shane Flanagan, has lodged his opposition against the hospital plan, stating he owns a site in Ennis zoned for community use, which had been earmarked for a hospital by the council.


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