20 Jan 2022

Dundalk councillor criticises rejection of zoning land beside hospital for community facilities

Dundalk councillor criticises rejection of zoning  land beside Louth County Hospital for community facilities

Cllr Emma Coffey

Councillor Emma Coffey has spoken of her disappointed at the rejection of the Louth County Hospital's request for lands to remain zoned for community facilities rather than residential.

Following a meeting of the Louth County Council Special Development Plan committee held last week, Cllr Coffey voiced her disappointment at the result of a vote passed by a majority of councillors, which rejects the Chief Executive recommendation to maintain lands owned by the HSE adjacent to Louth County Hospital to remain to be zoned for Community Facilities and not residential.

The lands zoning was changed from Residential to Community Facilities’ on foot of a Councillors submission by Cllr Coffey in October of 2020 upon contact by the HSE agents that they did not want their lands zoned residential.

Speaking about these issues on foot of a Submission brought by Cllr. Marianne Butler, Cllr Maria Doyle and Cllr. Pio Smith to seek a rejection of the Chief Executive Recommendation and the HSE lands to revert back to residential zoning, Cllr Coffey said: “The Community Facilities rezoning will ease any future plans the HSE may have to expand existing services or develop new facilities to bring the Louth County Hospital up to standard that is commensurate with the needs of the existing and future populations of Dundalk.

"The suggestion the site should revert to residential on the off chance it may be residentially developed is ill conceived and justification for its reversion is poorly thought out.”

As many as 19 councillors, voted in favour of Cllr. Butlers, Cllr. Doyle’s and Cllr. Smith submission that the lands should revert back to the original zoning of Residential Lands.

Councillor Coffey made a counter submission that in consideration of the comments by Cllr Doyle that the Planning Regulator notes an over zoning of residential lands in the town of Dundalk that the lands adjacent to the Louth Hospital remain zoned community facilities in order to allow the Louth Hospital to build and expand its services as a Primary Care Facility.

This was rejected by 19 councillors with Cllr Coffey, Liam Reilly Sean Kelly, Andrea McKevitt, James Byrne and Eileen Tully voting in favour of the Counter Motion and four councillors abstaining.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Coffey stated that she “was very disappointed" that the Council missed an opportunity to ensure that the Louth Hospital had a real and viable opportunity to ensure that during the lifetime of the next development plan which expires in 2027 to expand its services or develop new facilities to meet the needs of the people of Dundalk and North Louth.

She also highlighted that there is never a time when talking to the people of Dundalk that the Louth Hospital expansion of services is not discussed.

She further stated: “As Councillors we have limited opportunity to influence and make decisions in regard to the expansion of health services of the Louth Hospital.

"We as a council had a real opportunity to support the HSE in their future plans of a site that is of strategic importance to them and they have indicated that they do not want their lands zoned residential.

"But this fell on deaf ears of the 19 Councillors who voted against this and will result in the HSE either not developing the site or spending taxpayer’s money on reports and further applications to the council in trying to change the zoning of the site.

"The vote passed that the site be reverted to residential zoning on the off chance the HSE will build houses, in my view is a vote against the expansion of services and facilities at the Louth Council Hospital which in my opinion, is a disservice to the people of north Louth

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.