August 18, 2022

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DUBLIN City Council has granted planning permission for an €89m “Covid emergency” extension at one...

DUBLIN City Council has granted planning permission for an €89m “Covid emergency” extension at one of the country’s largest hospitals, despite objections from An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society.
he Council approved plans by the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital to construct a nine-storey building on the hospital’s grounds at Eccles Street, Dublin, to provide specialist facilities for the treatment of Covid-19 and similar future pandemics.
The new building, with over 13,500 square metres of floor space, rising to 29.6 metres in height, will allow for the provision of 98 new hospital beds. These will consist of 16 intensive care beds, 28 PPVL isolation beds, 12 isolation respiratory beds, 40 high acute isolation beds, and two infection isolation bed units.
All the wards will consist of single en suite rooms.
The council also granted retention permission for work on the site to date as the hospital had begun some of the development last year under legislation which allows for construction work to proceed on projects in emergency situations.
The Mater subsequently submitted a formal application for planning permission to Dublin City Council last August.
The new building is located on a site that was previously earmarked for a new national children’s hospital before it was moved to St James’s Hospital.
The Mater said the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted a lack of facilities including intensive care units and related accommodation for the treatment of infectious diseases.
The hospital claimed the pressure it experienced in early 2020 and again in early 2021 had resulted in considerable disruption to hospital services and ponement of treatment and medical procedures for non-Covid illnesses for “unacceptably long periods on occasion”.
The hospital said the need to segregate Covid patients from other patients had resulted in a 54pc reduction in elective procedures, with some surgical services moved to the Mater Private Hospital as well as Cappagh and Smithfield, which led to disruption for patients and staff as well as increased waiting times and inefficiencies.
In its submission to the council, An Taisce said it was very concerned at how the Mater had proceeded with the project to date by using a provision that allowed no facility for the public or other third parties to make their views known, particularly given its location in an area “with significant cultural heritage sensitivities”.
An Taisce said it was concerned that the building which was designed for an emergency might take three years to complete.
The heritage body claimed the building’s designers displayed an astonishing lack of regard for one of the most important Georgian streets in the north inner city.
An Taisce official, Kevin Duff, said the location of the new “anonymous, business park-type” development was where original Georgian houses were controversially demolished in the 1980s including the fictional home of Leopold and Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
“There are heritage constraints at this location within one of Georgian Dublin’s primary streetscapes/vistas which make it fundamentally unsuitable for the development as currently proposed,” said Mr Duff.
The Irish Georgian Society (IGS) said it was regrettable that the Mater’s plans did not seek to redress a “long-standing urban eyesore” on the site of former Georgian houses and the new development represented a missed opportunity.
IGS executive director, Donough Cahill, said the society had considerable reservations about the impact which the building would have on Eccles Street and the character of a terrace of Georgian houses opposite the site.
Council planners noted the concerns expressed by An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society about the impact of the proposed building on the Georgian heritage of the area but said they considered its scale was generally acceptable and in keeping with existing buildings on the Mater campus.
Among a total of 18 different conditions attached to the grant of planning permission by the council are ones requiring the hospital to pay a development contribution sum of over €1.4 million to the local authority to provide associated public infrastructure and facilities, as well as a further development contribution of over €515,000 in relation to the Luas cross city scheme.
An Taisce and the Irish Georgian Society have until the last day of February to decide if they wish to appeal the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála.

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