THE planned new €650m national children's hospital will be a "world-class" facility, a planning hearing has been told.
Under its current timetable, construction on the new Children's Hospital of Ireland at Eccles Street in north Dublin will begin in the second quarter of next year with the first patient due to be treated towards the end of 2016.
On the first day of An Bord Pleanala's oral hearing in Dublin yesterday, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) outlined its plans for the project, which will replace the three existing children's hospitals in the capital.
The new hospital will have 392 in-patient beds and 53 day care bed spaces and will include an emergency department, 13 operating theatres, research laboratories, a hospital school and restaurant and a family resource centre.
There will also be a four-storey underground carpark with 972 spaces and more than 240 bicycle spaces.
The development, which was designed by architects O'Connell Mahon/NBBJ, will vary in height from four storeys fronting on to Eccles Street, rising to 16 storeys toward the centre of the site.
While some residents' groups have raised concerns at the height of the development, its designers have pointed out that the local area plan does not impose height restrictions.
Once up and running, it will be the only paediatric hospital in the country providing specialist treatments such as cardiac and cancer surgery, bone marrow transplantation and neurosurgery.
It will also provide out-patient clinics and emergency department services for children in the greater Dublin area.
The NPHDB will continue to outline its submission to An Bord Pleanala today and tomorrow and will face questions from objectors next week including residents' associations, individuals and organisations such as the Irish Georgian Society.
The main objections raised so far are the proposed siting of the new hospital, its height in relation to surrounding buildings and traffic management.
Eamonn Kelly, chartered town planner and consultant to the NPHDB, yesterday told the hearing that the new facility would be co-located with the newly constructed Mater Misericordiae University Hospital for adults and the proposed future maternity hospital, which would see the Rotunda relocated to the Mater site.