A €25m development that includes a 100-bed nursing home and 47 housing units planned for Clarke’s Hill in Rochestown has been given the go ahead by Cork City Council.
The grant of planning permission comes with 36 conditions attached, including that developer Aperee appoint a qualified arborist (tree surgeon) and lodge a tree bond of €40,000 with the local authority ahead of any construction taking place.
The proposed development will take place on a 7.2-acre prime greenfield site and will include the demolition of an existing 2,500sq ft dwelling built in the 1970s.
The site, directly opposite the Mount Ovel residential development on the northern end of Clarke’s Hill, was widely reported during the year as having sold for €4.75m, after going to market for €3.85m with Savills. The price equates to approximately €660,000 per acre.
Aperee, the healthcare investment arm of the Blackbee investment group, is hoping to be on site at Clarke’s Hill in the first quarter of next year, with an 18-month completion target, according to an Aperee spokesperson.
The development will include a two-storey-over-basement nursing home and 47 independent living housing units, which will be made up of 20 townhouses and 27 apartments in two three-storey-over-basement blocks.
Asked if the independent living units would be put on the open market, the Aperee spokesperson said it was “currently assessing options” but that it was “likely to be sold or leased to the retiree/downsizing market”.
A builder has not yet been appointed to the project.
In giving the development the go-ahead, planners said it “would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities” and that it was “in accordance with proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.
Participants in the application have four weeks from December 7 in which to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanála.
Aperee’s approach to nursing home development is two-pronged: acquisition of easy-to-expand trading homes and build-to-operate homes on greenfield sites, of which the first will be at the site of the former Church of Ireland rectory in Glanmire, outside Cork City.
Aperee currently has 541 beds under its control, with 100 more due to come on stream in Glanmire, due for completion in September, a spokeswoman said.
When Blackbee launched its healthcare fund over two years ago, it said it would result in Ireland’s largest residential care group. The fund was seeking to raise €250m to invest in the acquisition and development of state-of-the-art care homes, with institutional and professional private investors targeted.
The group said at the time that it was planning the construction of 1,000 single en suite beds and the acquisition of 750 existing beds. Since then, Aperee has taken over the management of seven Ditchley Group nursing homes in Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny and Galway, as well as buying Havenwood retirement village in Waterford — for a figure thought to be in the region of €8m — and Padre Pio nursing home in Mallow for a reported c€5m, as well as Cúil Didín in Tralee for a reported €7m.
It has also invested about €15m converting and extending the former Glanmire rectory to create a 100-bed nursing home facility.
Last month, it emerged Blackbee was examining the possibility of selling off its nursing home portfolio following reports that it had appointed advisors from PwC to look at a possible sale. If there is a sale, the Irish Examiner understands it will not change Aperee’s plans.
A Bank of Ireland nursing home sector outlook report published in February highlighted continued Irish and international fund and investor interest in the nursing home sector in Ireland, with an ongoing shift from “the traditional owner-operator model in Ireland to the more European PropCo/OpCo [property company/operating company] model”.
One of the biggest transactions of last year was the purchase of Trinity Care Group’s seven nursing homes by Spanish investor group DomusVi.