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HSE slammed for 'derelict' state of St Ita's

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St Ita's

St Ita's

St Ita's

THE Health Service Executive has been criticised for leaving a former psychiatric hospital in north Dublin vacant and not being more proactive in finding alternative uses for the site.

The HSE is seeking planning permission to develop a new €100m state-of-the-art psychiatric facility at St Ita's Hospital Demense in Portrane, north county Dublin.

However, a Fingal County Council report has hit out at the HSE for letting many protected historic buildings at the site sit virtually derelict for decades.

historic

Officials have said the HSE needs to consider other uses for the buildings, including social housing or nursing homes.

Years of neglect have left 64 of 93 protected red-brick buildings vacant and crumbling despite their historic and architectural value, and their worth as a potentially valuable housing and building asset, according to the council.

"It's not acceptable that these historic buildings remain vacant indefinitely," a council official said in a submission last month to the State planning body, An Bord Pleanala.

The agency is to hold an oral hearing into the HSE's plan to build a 170-room psychiatric and rehabilitation facility known as the National Forensic Mental Health Service Hospital (NFMHS) that would replace the existing Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, south Dublin.

Construction is set to begin by the end of this year, subject to planning permission.

A joint feasibility study by the council and HSE "prioritises the re-use of existing buildings".

But the council is urging the HSE to "take a more proactive approach and to seek new uses for the historic buildings".

The call comes in a report by a council conservation officer who suggests some alternate uses, including social housing, private housing and nursing homes.

Artists' residences and nature observatories are also suggested due to the scenic nature of the site.

A HSE spokesperson said there are currently no plans to redevelop the buildings on site for housing or other uses other than the refurbishment this year of just one building that will be used for nurse education and training.

However, she said an unspecified number of buildings "for which no potential use has been identified" have been added to the Office of Public Work's National Asset Management database.

Conservation

She said that it has allocated €1.5m for stabilisation works to "maintain and protect the red brick buildings", including construction of parapet walls, roof works and fire protection.

Work has been ongoing since 2013 to "mothball" existing protected buildings within the hospital complex that are no longer in use.

"It is seen as a medium-term conservation solution to addressing the long-term survival and reuse of the buildings," she said.

"Once mothballing of a building has been completed, it will be maintained to prevent unnecessary damage, or deterioration while awaiting a new use."

hnews@herald.ie


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