Re: Re: Developments in Cork

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07 March 2008

Controversial €250m co-location hospital at CUH gets go-ahead

By Eoin English
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a €250 million co-location hospital in Cork were approved last night.

Cork City Council planners granted permission to the Beacon Medical Group (BMG) to build the 185-bedroom facility on the grounds of Cork University Hospital (CUH).

The project faced massive public opposition and was described by Enterprise Minister Micheál Martin as “not sustainable” on the Wilton hospital campus.

A total of 144 submissions were lodged against the project — one of the first planned under the Government’s co-location policy — including four from local Fianna Fáil politicians.

Most concerns related to traffic, building height and density.

But it was not clear last night whether council planners attached conditions to the granting of permission. However, it is understood they directed BMG to omit plans for one surface car park.

BMG was also given permission to build a temporary car park on the site of the ESB regional headquarters on the Sarsfield Road which will be used during the hospital’s two-year construction period.

BMG spokeswoman Pauline Cullen welcomed the news.

“We are extremely pleased,” she said. “We look forward to bringing a world-class medical facility to the region.”

She said BMG is committed to implementing a range of measures to alleviate traffic concerns.

The group is also committed to working with local politicians and residents to ensure that disruption during the construction phase is minimised.

Residents reacted with shock to the decision and said they were extremely disappointed.

Eamonn Cashell, chairman of Laburnum Wilton Residents Association, said he was amazed that planners had ignored the concerns of so many local residents.

“I just doesn’t make any sense. It’s hard to see how this development could be justified in the planning context of the Wilton area,” he said.

A public meeting will be called next week to explore their options.

Those options would include appeals to An Bord Pleanála, he said.

Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer said the decision defies logic,however rent-a-quote Jerry Buttimer himself defies logic.

“It’s an appalling decision. The hospital campus is at breaking point and this will just worsen the situation for residents,” he said.

Professor Liam Kirwan, professor of surgery at CUH and known as “the father of the hospital”, spoke out last month in support of the project.

He said securing a co-location hospital on the Wilton campus was vital and that the “greater good” should win out over local planning concerns.

However, consultants at Mercy University Hospital and the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital spoke out against the project, claiming co-location does not offer the best model of care.

Meanwhile, BMG is still awaiting a planning decision on co-location hospitals at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick.

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