THE BEACON Medical Group (BMG) has welcomed An Bord Pleanála's decision to approve plans for a co-located private hospital adjoining Beaumont Hospital in north Dublin.
Dublin City Council's initial decision last May to grant permission for the €297 million project had been appealed by Socialist Party leader and former TD Joe Higgins, on ideological and other grounds.
In his appeal, Mr Higgins argued that it was contrary to proper planning to approve "a private, for profit facility" on a site that was originally earmarked for a public psychiatric hospital.
BMG urged An Bord Pleanála to dismiss the appeal as vexatious, arguing that the former TD was engaged in "an ideological debate that does not form part of the planning considerations".
After being notified of the decision yesterday, BMG chief executive Michael Cullen said the company was "thrilled to have received planning permission for this much-needed state-of-the-art facility".
According to BMG, the co-located private hospital with its 170 single rooms would have the capacity to cater for more than 11,000 in-patients a year, as well as some 20,000 out-patients.
Tom Finn, director of the co-location project for the Health Service Executive said it was "a significant milestone towards full implementation of the Government's policy" in this area.
In its ruling, An Bord Pleanála did not specifically refer to Government policy on co-located hospitals, but said the proposed facility at Beaumont would be in accordance with proper planning.
It laid down a total of 13 conditions, including the preparation of a revised "mobility management plan" aimed at achieving a share of no more than 70 per cent for car usage in accessing the hospital.
The board ordered the removal of 51 "temporary" parking spaces within three months of the hospital's opening - although it would continue to have permanent parking for more than 470 cars.
Its decision also requires BMG to make a financial contribution to Dublin City Council towards the cost of public infrastructure and facilities in the area, prior to starting construction work.
BMG is to pay rent to the State for the site over a 65-year period.
According to Mr Cullen, this would produce revenue of €280 million for the three co-located hospitals being planned by the group. The other facilities would be in the grounds of Cork University Hospital and the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick.
The Irish Times