Planning has been approved for the ground floor of a contentious medical centre in Killarney, Co Kerry.
The out-of-town Reeks Gateway centre had initially been developed for office and business uses. But local pharmacists objected after Killarney Town Council approved retention for medical use when a number of local GPs relocated there, almost three years ago, along with a new pharmacy.
An Bord Pleanála has approved medical centre use only on the ground floor.
The planning appeals body ruled against its own inspector, saying allowing a complete change of use would have a negative impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.
The medical centre is about 1.5km from the town centre. It housed a number of surgeries over three floors as well as a pharmacy.
The group of GPs had plans to develop X-ray and other facilities at the centre.
However, a public row ensued between the GPs and local pharmacists over the doctors’ relocation from various parts of the town and, in particular, over the opening of a pharmacy at the building.
The town council decided the GPs did not require permission to set up there.
However, pharmacists referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála who ruled permission was needed.
Last November, the town council granted retention permission to GPs along with property developers Sundays Well for the conversion of the office buildings to medical use.
However, in December, five pharmacists in Killarney, through their planning consultants, appealed the retention decision to An Bord Pleanála.
An Taisce also voiced strong concerns about the impact of the concentration of doctors at a site removed from the town centre.
The appeals body granted permission for the change of use from commercial use to medical centre “on first floor only” and for the medical centre, a pharmacy and a cafe.
They have refused permission for medical use on the second floor where some of the multi-manned GPs practices are located.
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