| 5.8°C Dublin

Hunt for bats in chapel set for bulldozer

DEVELOPERS have been ordered to give special protection to rare bats if any are found in a chapel in St James's Hospital which has been earmarked for demolition.

Objections have been lodged by residents and An Taisce to the development plans in the grounds of the hospital.

Synchrony Properties want to build an eight-storey private hospital on the Dublin site.

However, a new bat shelter might have to be constructed if the scheme goes ahead, if it is found that the mammals are living in the roof of the 19th Century chapel.

Objectors said that the church, used by patients for their weekly Mass and by other faiths, was an architectural prize. But planners said it could be knocked down -- although they insisted bats would be looked after.

Dublin City Council gave the approval for the building but stated that in the interests of biodiversity, if bats are discovered during the works, the applicant must notify the Parks and Landscape Division.

A spokesman for St James's Hospital said that architectural advice was sought and it was concluded the church was of marginal value, both historically and architecturally.

However, the hospital has committed itself to replacing the church with a modern inter-faith centre which would be heated and easily accessible.

An Taisce originally objected to the demolition of the building, which it says is one of the few historic buildings remaining in the complex.

"In seeking its demolition, the applicant shows poor regards for the heritage, culture and collective memory of the Dublin 8 area," it noted.

Other objections were based on the belief that locating private facilities on the lands of a public healthcare provider would be contrary to the wishes of the grantees.

The Rialto Residents' Association have lodged fresh objections with An Bord Pleanala, but it is thought unlikely that the decision will be overturned.

A final decision is expected later on in the summer.