THE BEACON Medical Group has welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a €250 million co-located hospital in the grounds of Cork University Hospital and has expressed confidence that the hospital will be completed by 2012.
The board of An Bord Pleanála overruled the decision of its own inspector who, following a three- day oral hearing last September, recommended refusal of planning permission for the new two- to five-storey 33,000 square metre hospital on the northeast corner of the CUH campus.
The board ruled that revised road proposals adequately addressed concerns expressed by the inspector in relation to traffic safety, while a minor relocation of the building southwards would ensure it did not have an unduly negative impact on nearby houses.
It made it a condition of planning that the hospital would not become operational until the Bishopstown Road roundabout had been converted to a signal controlled junction and the entrance to CUH and the new co-located hospital moved some 90 metres to the west.
Beacon chief executive Michael Cullen welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála and said the new hospital would greatly benefit the health and wellbeing of the people of Cork while providing significant economic benefit by employing some 500 staff.
The new hospital will comprise 175 single rooms with eight critical-care unit beds, six theatres, ambulatory surgery and full diagnostics incorporating almost €26 million worth of new generation equipment and will cater for public and private patients. It will cater for 11,000 inpatients, 20,000 day patients and 12,000 surgeries a year.
“We will spend the next four to six months securing finance and doing detailed designs and we hope to be in a position to start construction work on the hospital either late this year or early next year,” Mr Cullen said.
He expressed confidence the group would secure about €800 million in funding for its Cork project and its two other similar projects in Limerick and Beaumont, although he conceded that financing may involve a greater number of banks than originally planned.
BMG is not buying the site on which the proposed hospital is being built and legal agreements have yet to be finalised with the HSE and the Department of Health for the facility.
Local residents had opposed the project. Eamon Cashell, chairman of the Laburnum/Wilton Residents’ Association, said yesterday that residents in the area were outraged at the fact that An Bord Pleanála had ignored its own inspector’s views.
“The hospital isn’t built yet and we haven’t thrown in the towel,” he said, adding that the residents were considering all their options including seeking legal advice.
“People are outraged at this decision,” Mr Cashell added. “We based our arguments not on emotion but solely on planning grounds and we take some solace from the fact that planning inspector found in our favour, but we’re angered that the board then ignored his recommendations and went against its own experts.”