RESIDENTS living close to a new Community Nursing Unit (CNU) proposed for a green-field site close to St Flannan’s College in Ennis voiced concerns over increased traffic and other issues, at a public briefing this week.
Up to ten residents turned up for the briefing which unveiled Health Service Executive (HSE) proposals for the state-of-the-art, 100-bed facility for older people. While residents stressed that they have no objection to the nursing home and appreciate the need for it, many expressed concern over the loss of the green area as well as a potential increase in traffic.
The briefing heard a warning from HSE officials that any delay in the planning process could put the multi-million Euro project, which will comprise 75 long-stay and 25 short-stay beds, at risk. Aisling Ryan of the HSE told residents that planning hitches “may delay us to the point that the funding leaves”. “That’s really key and it’s really important that people understand that” she said.
Councillor Pat Daly, a resident of Gallows Hill said that there were concerns about the position of the entrance to the proposed unit. “The people in Gallows Hill are quite elderly,” he said. “The last thing they want is more traffic.”
Responding to those concerns, Clodagh Hanratty of the HSE said there were many aspects of the project that could be looked at during the planning process. “The main traffic will be from rostered staff,” she outlined. “We’ve done a traffic survey and that will form part of the application to the local authority. Whatever is built on this site will create traffic, but there are options we can look at. Overall, we’re very lucky in the Midwest to have secured this funding and we’re very proud of what we’re doing. If there are delays, it could go, just like that. If we get objects and then end up at An Bord Pleanála, we won’t build it and that would be very sad.”
Local resident John Maloney reiterated that nobody is against the planned nursing home. “It’s important to get this right,” he told the local media. “It’s great to see a new nursing home. I applaud the HSE initiative, but people in the area need to be involved early on in the process. There is a concern over traffic and the issue of flooding needs to be kept in mind, given the problems there have been in the area.”
Ms Hanratty told the media that all feedback received from people attending the briefing would be relayed back to the project team. “We hope that people will be as excited as we are after seeing the scheme,” she said.
Ms Ryan said the new unit would support the HSE in meeting Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) standards and would free up space for other services on the old St Joseph’s site. “This will be a state-of-the art, future-proofed, homely and HIQA-compliant facility,” she said. “Time is of the essence. There is a real urgency about this.”
The planning application is due to be lodged with Clare County Council in around a month’s time.