Tuesday 19 March 2019

Major jobs boost for Fermoy as medical centre gets green light

€15m Mill Island project could create up to 200 jobs

An artist’s impression of how the planned €15 million Primary Healthcare Centre on the Mill Island in Fermoy will look when completed.
An artist’s impression of how the planned €15 million Primary Healthcare Centre on the Mill Island in Fermoy will look when completed.

Bill Browne

Planning permission has been granted for the multi-million euro redevelopment of the vacant Mill Island complex in Fermoy into a primary healthcare centre.

Paul McKieran - the executive director of UHPC International, the company behind the ambitious project - said that, when fully operational, the centre would have the capacity to cater for up to 200 employees.

"As well as breathing new life into the historic Mill complex, the centre will bring a huge financial boost to the town of Fermoy," he said.

In April of this year, UHPC lodged a second application for the facility, making provision for a change of use of the existing buildings, including the original mill building and the newer office structure, into a primary healthcare centre for the HSE and general medical doctors. 

The development will entail the demolition of an existing single-storey staff catering building adjoining the Mill, and a section of the adjoining block.

The plan also incorporates a proposed 2,000-sq-metre two-storey extension to the block; a new entrance lobby and coffee shop; and the removal of the central floor area in the middle of the building to create a 'light well' for improved ventilation and light. 

A new two-storey 408 sq metre building will serve as a dispensary and medical aid area. 

The Mill building, a protected structure, will be completely refurbished, with work planned for the building set to include replacement windows and the construction of a new slate roof. The development will see the total floor area of the buildings on the site expanded from 3,223 sq metres to 4,112 sq metres, and 217 parking spaces will be created. 

While one observation had been lodged against the development, council planners ruled that, subject to 43 stipulated conditions, it would not impact on existing amenities, the heritage of the area or the character of the protected mill structure.

They further found that it would not "detract from the vitality or viability of Fermoy town centre" and would be "acceptable in terms of traffic impact." 

The conditions imposed dealt with a number of issues including the visual appearance of the centre; public and road safety; flood prevention; and the protection of local wildlife habitats. 

UHPC was also ordered to pay €43,534.33 to the council under the authority's development contributions scheme. 

Speaking to The Corkman Mr McKiernan said it was hoped the approximately €15million project would go to tender within weeks.

"Now that planning permission has been granted, we intend to hit the ground running and have workers on site by the spring of next year and the centre open by the first quarter of 2019," said Mr McKiernan. 

He said the facility would have the capacity to house up to a dozen GPs from the wider Fermoy area, with more than half of that number having already signed up to the project.

"While at this stage it is not possible to give a definitive breakdown of all of the services that will be available at the centre, I can say that it will incorporate GP and dentistry practises; an ultra-sound department; and different therapy options", said Mr McKiernan. 

"We will very much be focussing on incorporating the centre into the community and will be inviting various different health-related groups across a variety of disciplines and interests from the area to avail of the facility. 

"Up to now our focus has been on getting planning permission. We can now concentrate on exploring all of the options open to us in the future," he added.