Galway Hospice have decided against pursuing a legal review of the decision by An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for a new hospice.
Last month the planning authority overturned a decision by the city council to grant permission for the new 36 bed Galway Hospice facility close to Merlin Park Woods.
At the time the hospice said that it was getting legal advice about the possibility of seeking a judicial review of the decision.
However a statement released today said the hospice has “reluctantly taken the decision not to seek leave for a judicial review.”
The hospice board and management team said that they were “shocked and devastated by An Bord Pleanála’s decision, but that pursuing a judicial review would carry significant risks and costs “with no guarantee of success”.
The process of providing a new hospice in the city will now likely be significantly delayed, it was warned.
Mary Nash, CEO of Galway Hospice, said that everyone was still one hundred percent committed to building a new state of the art facility in Galway city to meet current and future needs.
“Unfortunately, due to An Bord Pleanala’s decision plans are further delayed,” she added.
“Regrettably it is likely that during this period not everyone who needs inpatient services will benefit from the high quality care that the hospice provides.”
Friends of Merlin Woods and An Taisce lead an appeal against the city council’s grant of permission on the grounds that the chosen site was a protected Annex 1 lowland meadow.
Both parties have said that they are not opposed to the development of the new hospice, but that there are more ideal sites in the area that would not impact on local flora and fauna.
Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods said they were happy the “current threat” of development to the meadow and woodlands in the area is over.
“It has been a conflict which no one wanted but Friends of Merlin Woods and the community who support the woodlands believe we must protect our recreational and amenity areas, and our high biodiversity areas.”
She added that any damage to the habitats in the area would pose a serious threat to species living there, which has a knock-on effect on human life.
“It is our hope that another site will be offered again on existing community facility zoned land for use by Galway Hospice and that Councillors will be more cautious on rezoning environmentally sensitive land in the future,” Caroline said.
Galway Hospice acknowledged the environmental concerns raised by objectors, but said that patients and their families in Galway should take precedence in consideration.
It was added that, working with the HSE, Galway Hospice made “significant compromises” in the design to address those concerns, cutting back on the originally planned size of the project in order to protect the habitat.
Demand for services at Galway Hospice is expected to double over the next ten years, while the current facility in Renmore is not considered fit for purpose.
“The Hospice will now review its options for a new location and will consult with planning officials, advisors and the local community before making a decision on the best way forward to deliver this much needed service.”