Environmental group to appeal planning permission for new Galway hospice

Galway daily news

The Friends of Merlin Woods environmental group intends to appeal the decision to grant planning permission for a new hospice building.

They say they fully support the construction of a new hospice, but that it shouldn’t be built on the chosen site.

Galway City Council granted approval for the 36 bed hospice building on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital earlier this week.

The new hospice is planned to have a daycare and Residential Care Unit, with a focus on Palliative Care Services.

Along with the 36 beds there will be a daycare, therapy spaces, family accommodation and associated facilities like a kitchen, restaurant, chapel, and mortuary.

Construction of the new hospice is expected to cost approximately €20 million.

The site that has been chosen for the new hospice building is designated ‘EU Annex 1 Lowland Hay Meadow’ which is home to red squirrels, bats, owls, and over a dozen of species of butterfly as well as a wildflower meadow.

Friends of Merlin Woods say that the development will damage the area these animals call home.

They are calling for the hospice to be built somewhere else on the 84 acres of available land at Merlin Park.

The city council voted to rezone the land for the site within the city development plan to allow the project to go ahead, despite city planners advising using an alternative location.

One of the conditions stipulated in granting permission is that the developers will employ an ecologist for the duration of the works to monitor their imapct.

And that this ecologist shall have “cease work” powers to ensure the site’s conservation.

Friends of Merlin Woods have said they will appeal the council’s decision to let the development go ahead.

The current 18-bed hospice in Renmore has been serving as the city’s primary palliative care unit for 20 years, and has been seeking the extra space for some time.

The hospice said that the HSE agreed to sell the site for the new building, but only if planning permission was secured.

Plans were first lodged for the new hospice with the city council in June, and it has been the subject of intense public debate over the summer.