Monday, 17 September 2007

Luxury flats plan sparks unholy row

AN unholy row has broken out involving two religious orders of nursing sisters, a parish and one of the country's best-known businessmen, Noel Smyth, over plans to build luxury apartments on the site of St Michael's Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

The tussle concerns the Sisters of Charity and St Vincent's Healthcare Group and the parish of St Michael's in Dun Laoghaire on one side and the Sisters of Mercy and Mr Smyth on the other.

St Vincent's Healthcare Group, which administers both St Vincent's Hospital and St Michael's Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, is annoyed at the decision of the Sisters of Mercy -- who own the lands around St Michael's -- to sell off the one-acre car park and another part of the site earlier this year to the developer for between €20m and €30m.

St Vincent's wants to completely upgrade the ageing hospital.

Mr Smyth, lodged a planning application last month for two blocks of luxury apartments on the two sites within the hospital complex.

A total of 111 apartments is proposed for the two blocks running from the harbour side of the coast to the centre of the town. Objections have now been lodged on behalf of St Vincent's and the Sisters of Charity and by the Parish of St Michael's in Dun Laoghaire to the proposed complex.

A spokesman for St Vincent's confirmed that an objection had been lodged, but there was no sign of the objection in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Planning Office's files on Friday.

In a statement last month, St Vincent's said: "The future operation of St Michael's at its current site will be adversely affected if the car park site that is currently being used by patients and staff is no longer available to the hospital.

"This car park site was not owned by SVHG or the Sisters of Charity (SVHG trustees) and has been sold recently by its owners, the Sisters of Mercy. The car park is an integral part of current hospital services. SVHG was interested in acquiring the car park for use by St Michael's Hospital.

"It had discussions with the Sisters of Mercy and is disappointed that the car park site has been sold to a third party."

The Parish of St Michael in Dun Laoghaire has lodged two objections to the proposal for apartments on the site of the old nurses' home as it would overlook a community centre.

Irish Independent

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