Flooding fears rule out €80m hospital

CONCERNS over flooding have led Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for a €80 million private hospital in Cork city.

O’Callaghan Properties, which proposed to build the 93-bed hospital at Lancaster Quay, said it was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision which will cost 650 jobs. The 2.5 acre site was not affected in last November’s flooding.

However while recognising that, Bord Pleanála decided surrounding areas had been badly hit as a result of the deluge and no further building should take place on the site at least until the flood prevention measures outlined in the Draft Lee Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Study are implemented.

O’Callaghan Properties, which is owned by developer Owen O’Callaghan, said Bord Pleanála’s decision was very regrettable, given that it recognised the site had remained unaffected during last November’s flood – regarded as a one-in-800-year event.

“The basis for the decision appears to be that areas surrounding our site at Lancaster Quay flooded and that, in our view, is not a justification for this refusal,” the spokesman said.

“The consequence of the decision is that 650 jobs are now lost to the city.

“There were to have been 350 jobs created during construction and 300 permanent medical, para-medical and administrative jobs. The project was fully funded and would have started immediately,” he said.

The company insisted that last November’s flood was very unlikely to be repeated.

“There is now an absolute imperative that Draft Lee Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Study measures be implemented immediately. Otherwise large tracts of viable development land, with really positive projects proposed for them, cannot proceed, thereby inhibiting development in the city and surrounding areas and further delaying economic recovery,” the O’Callaghan Properties spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the first private hospital to open in the city since 1918 will start accepting patients on October 4.

The Sheahan Medical Group (SMG), which owns the Blackrock Clinic, will open the 75-bed hospital equipped with four operating theatres in Mahon.

“Up to now the Munster region has had only 14 operating theatres compared with 49 for a similar population in Dublin. This has meant that patients from here have had to regularly travel for treatment,” SMG chief executive Philip Sheahan said.


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