People Before Profit Alliance campaign against planned high rise development

  • 17 September 2007
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The People Before Profit Alliance (PBPA) have begun a major campaign to halt plans by developer Noel Smyth to build an eight-storey apartment block on a car-park currently used by St Michael's public hospital.


PBPA have lodged an objection to a planning application submitted recently to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Council by one of Smyth's companies, Wexele, for the proposed high-rise development, on the grounds that it will adversely affect hospital services and threaten the hospital's future.

Smyth acquired the car park, which is used by hospital staff and patients, in a deal with its owners, the Sisters of Mercy in 2001. The St Vincent's Healthcare Group, who manage St Michael's public hospital on behalf of the Sisters of Charity, have stated that they would have attempted to purchase the car-park but were unaware it was on the market until after it had been acquired by Noel Smyth.

As well as lodging an objection to the Council planners on these grounds, the PBPA has recently helped establish a public campaign on the issue of the hospitals future, which included a large public meeting and demonstration involving hundreds of residents during the summer.

The recently established Health Services Action Group now plan a major postcard campaign directed at local councillors, calling for the public hospital site and car-park to be zoned by the Council for “hospital use only.” Thousands of postcards addressed to local councillors have recently been printed and are currently being distributed to the public.

Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance said:
“We are calling on the council planners to refuse permission for this development. If Noel Smyth's plan is approved by the Council it will deprive the public hospital of a car-park, which it needs badly if it is to be able to function. The hospital management itself has stated that the car park is “an integral part of current hospital services.” Without the car park the St Vincent's Healthcare Group, will be put under more pressure to accept recent proposals made by Smyth that they should sell the public hospital site itself to him and re-locate the hospital elsewhere. It is completely unacceptable that a private developer should be allowed to threaten the future of St Michael's in this way.

Furthermore, we want the Councillors to permanently safeguard the future of the hospital at its current location by introducing a variation in the County development plan that zones the public hospital site and the car park of the nurses home for hospital use only. If the Councillors do this it would render the site useless to Noel Smyth and force him to sell it to the public hospital, who have made clear they would be interested in acquiring it.

We have already collected about six thousand signatures on a petition opposing any plan to sell or re-locate the hospital. With our new postcard campaign, we now hope to deluge councillors with the demand that they safeguard its future by zoning it for hospital use only.

Although the question of the hospital is our major concern in this matter, we also believe any further plans for high-rise developments such as this in the area should be stopped. The Council's own recently commissioned study on tall buildings said that building in the vicinity of the seafront should not go over three or four storey's, as it was out of line with the character of the area. Furthermore, under pressure from the public, the council recently voted to have a local area plan for the Dun Laoghaire area, which involves widespread public consultation on future development of the area. No major high-rise or large-scale development that will significantly affect vital amenities, services or the character of the area should be approved until the local area plan and public consultation has been completed.”