Thursday 11 June 2009

Locals oppose plan to demolish historic church on hospital land

Residents in south Dublin have been joined by An Taisce in their opposition to a proposal to demolish a 19th-century church on the grounds of St James's Hospital to make way for a new private hospital under the government's co-location plan.

Concerns have also been raised that a formal request by Dublin city councillors to start the process of having the chapel, which was built in 1890, added to the list of protected structures was not acted upon.

Synchrony Properties Ltd has applied to Dublin City Council for the development of an eight-storey 196-bed private hospital on an approximately 1.15 hectare site in the southwestern section of the St James' Hospital complex.

Synchrony Healthcare has a contract agreement with the Health Service Executive to build the private hospital under the government's co-location scheme.

The city council has received some 50 letters of objection to the proposal, including submissions from several residents' associations, local politicians and An Taisce.

Many of the letters were submitted by residents who use the chapel regularly and have objected to the demolition of the structure, which is also used by patients and staff at the facility as a place of worship.

In one submisson, the Molony family from Kilmainham said the chapel was a "great amenity on the grounds of the hospital for the sick and staff who frequently use it as a place for prayer and reflection".

They said a proposal by the board of the hospital to build a small "multi-faith" facility adjoining the main hospital building is "farcical" given the current cutbacks in the health system.

"There is no way that a chapel or multi-faith facility will be opened if the church is closed down in the current economic climate."

In addition, local Labour councillor John Gallagher has raised concerns that a recommendation by the South Central Area Committee of the city council to place the church on the list of protected structures had not been progressed to a full council meeting.

In his submission, Gallagher said it was "unacceptable" that planning permission for the proposal would be given the go-ahead until such time as the role of the city council in the listing of the building is clarified.

In response to a recent written question by Gallagher on the matter, the council said: "A number of issues have arisen in relation to the status of this building. These issues are being examined at present and a full report will be made to the next meeting of the South Central Area Committee."

Kevin Duff of An Taisce, which has also made a submission on the application, said the chapel was of architectural and historical significance and therefore should not be demolished.

"The proposal to demolish the building does not accord with the principles of sustainable development and would be contrary to Dublin City Council's policies encouraging reuse of unlisted older buildings," he said.

Sunday Tribune

No comments: