Sunday, 2 January 2011

Planning query on Killarney medical centre

A PHARMACY in Killarney, Co Kerry, is asking An Bord Pleanála to rule on whether the town council’s decision to allow a major medical centre into a new multistorey building, originally planned for office and commercial use, needs planning permission.

The 105,000sq-ft glass-fronted Reeks Gateway, comprising multi-storey blocks at the northern entrance to Killarney, was built by developers Sundays Well Properties Ltd. The local company was granted permission in 2004 and it was built at the height of the boom, but was never fully occupied.

The modern building alongside the grey Gothic spires of the town have attracted much comment.

Last June most of the town’s GP practices, comprising 12 GPs, with the healthcare company Prime Healthcare Group, announced they were to fulfil a long-held ambition of a modern primary healthcare centre. They said they would take up 50,000sq ft of the Gateway – just under half of the development – at a cost of some €25 million. That move is now nearing completion.

Outpatient buildings and satellite services from hospitals in Cork and Kerry would be located there in what would be a one-stop shop for medical care, project spokesman and Killarney GP Dr Gary Stack said. The proposal would include “an ultra-modern pharmacy,” Dr Seán Maguire, Prime Healthcare’s managing director, also said in June.

Pharmacists in Killarney have been opposed to the plan, fearing for their livelihoods. In October, after a submission, Killarney Town Council ruled there was no distinction in the planning between a medical centre and commercial uses of the building and therefore the move to the Gateway centre did not require planning and was exempt.

Now agents on behalf of Cormac and Owen Deasy, Park Road Pharmacy, Countess Road, Killarney, have referred the matter to An Bord Pleanála.

They say there is “a clear distinction” between commercial and medical uses and that medical centres give rise to different planning issues than commercial office uses. Government policy was also against the co-location of retail pharmacies and medical centres, the pharmacists state.

The planning board is expected to rule in the new year.

Irish Times

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