An artists's impression of the new primary care centre, walkways, cycleways, park walk and playing pitch at Ballybought Street, Kilkenny
A new primary care centre of significant scale for St John’s Parish is now a step closer following approval by local councillors for a material contravention to the City Development Plan last week.
Westcourt Healthcare Ltd wants to build a three-storey structure, involving a primary healthcare centre and community resource centre, with recreational facilities and landscape improvements at Lakeside and the Golf Links Road. The site is just to the south of the Newpark Shopping Centre.
It will provide for HSE services and General Practice, associated meeting rooms, offices, staff accommodation and reception areas. The community resource centre will be an ‘own-door’ facility located in the ground floor.
The proposal includes a new vehicular entrance off the Golf Links Road, car and bike parking, a set-down area, footpaths, cycle paths, and further infrastructure.
In relation to car parking, 100 spaces have been proposed, including six disabled, two parent-and-child, and two age-friendly. The number falls short of that required in the City and Environs Development Plan based on the size of the development. However, the applicant is arguing that a significant number of people will walk to the facility, due to its close proximity to local housing estates.
Recreational facilities proposed include a new sports pitch, associated works and landscaping to the open space and ponds to form a public park at Lakeside and Golf Links Road. The nearby St John’s school has no sports field, and it will manage and own the new pitch.
The proposed development materially contravenes the Kilkenny City and Environs Development Plan, which sets out an objective in the area ‘to allow for green links and biodiversity conservation and to preserve, provide, and improve recreational space’. Under this zoning, a medical centre is not permitted.
However, in his recommendation, senior planner Denis Malone noted that the development would entail a new healthcare facility, playing pitch for a local school, remedial works to the Lakeside estate, pedestrian crossing, and general upgrading of space. He said notwithstanding the loss of public open space, it was considered there was a ‘significant overall planning gain’.
No submissions were received during the four-week consultation period.
To pass a resolution, three quarters of councillors had to vote in favour. The contravention was recommended by Mr Malone and Chief Executive Colette Byrne, and received the support of all members present at the July meeting.