HSE denies buying site for helipad

The HSE has denied reports that it has bought a strategic site next to Cork University Hospital amid speculation that it could be earmarked for a helipad.

However, it has confirmed that, following the allocation of capital funding, a number of possible helipad sites have been identified on the busy hospital campus.

“A very careful assessment of the technical feasibility of these sites is underway, in accordance with aviation regulations,” a spokeswoman said yesterday.

“When complete, this process of identifying an appropriate and safe site, will inform the final costing of the project.”

She said a preferred site which meets the hospital’s clinical needs, as well as aviation requirements, will be identified this year. It is intended to have a helipad operational in 2015, she said.

The HSE was responding to local reports that it had bought the Wilton Cafe and car-wash site on the western fringes of the hospital campus, fronting on to the Wilton Road. The cafe and car-wash business had to close yesterday ahead of the site’s sale by Nama.

It had been operating on the site successfully under the terms of a short-term lease held by Hillbilly’s, owned by fast-food entrepreneur Michael Grace.

However, following the appointment of receivers to the site’s owners, the land is to be sold with vacant possession. A spokesman for Hillbilly’s said they had no option but to close the business and vacate the site by the end of this month.

There was speculation locally that the HSE had bought the site, and was planning to build a two-storey car park and a roof-top helipad on the site, but a spokeswoman denied that the purchase had been completed.

She declined to comment on whether the HSE plans to buy the site, or whether it has had, or is in discussions about its possible purchase.

She also declined to comment on the possible helipad sites which have been identified on the hospital campus.

“The CUH will inform staff and other interested stakeholders in the first instance on the proposed locations for the helipad,” she said.

Meanwhile, an arrangement with nearby Bishopstown GAA club to land coastguard or Air Corps helicopters on one of its pitches remains in place.

CUH, the only Level-1 trauma centre in the country, has been without a helipad since its emergency department was built on the site of the old helipad almost a decade ago.

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