An architectural rendering of the proposed new three-storey medical centre at Lisdaran, Cavan town.

Multi-million euro health village to be developed

A multi-million euro private health village, combining a medical centre and a 160-bed nursing home, is set to be developed adjacent to Cavan General Hospital, The Anglo-Celt can reveal. It has the potential to create at least 80 new medical and administrative jobs in the county town once delivered, not including those generated though the construction project.

The €20M medical centre was the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála but has just been given the green light.

The board upheld a decision by Cavan County Council to grant planning for the new centre on the outskirts of Cavan Town, despite an appeal.

The way has now been cleared for Lisdaran Partnership to develop the village. The three-storey medical centre will be constructed on lands previously sold at a price regarded as the most expensive ever achieved per acre in Cavan. It's combined with separate plans to build a 160 bed nursing home, which were not challenged.

Lisdaran Partnership is seeking to deliver a complete health village concept that, according to submissions, could one day “relieve pressure on acute medical services” at the nearby Cavan General Hospital.

The nursing home is set to be delivered in two phases of 80 beds each. It’s understood that construction of the nursing home is set to begin in Spring 2024 as that portion of the land, with planning permission, has been sold to French nursing home operator Orpea – which is also one of Ireland’s largest nursing home providers.

Meanwhile, a spokesperon for Lisdaran Partnership welcomed the latest planning permission and said they were ready to move “rapidly” once agreement with a tenant had been reached.

Meanwhile, it’s proposed that the medical centre, to be built at a maximum height of 11.85m, will operate Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. Running to 7,750.4 sq m, the centre will accommodate a pharmacy, 70 surgeries/consulting rooms, a restaurant and offices.

Significant further information and revised plans including a Natura Impact Statement were submitted as part of the application, and permission was granted by council planners back in June last year.

However, local resident Jim Elliott engaged Tipperary-based Town Planning Consultant, David Mooney, to lodge a submission on his behalf and later appealed the granting of permission to An Bord Pleanala claiming the “scale of the proposed development does not integrate” with surrounding developments in the area.

He raised concerns over the roads infrastructure serving the site, describing it as “poor and in need of upgrade”, and expressed fears that development would only “exacerbate” the impact of the previously permitted nursing home plan.

Mr Elliott asked that potential “flood risk” in the area be “adequately investigated and assessed”.

He stated: “The Lisdaran Partnership have lodged two separate applications for this site without submitting an overall master plan for the entire site that they own. The submitted Site Layout Plan indicates a number of ‘possible future link roads’. This approach to the wider development of the site is considered unacceptable. Local residents should be granted the opportunity to review a Masterplan for the site as the wider development of these lands will directly affect the local community.”

Mr Elliott followed this submission with a letter to planners in which he described the medical centre project as an “enormous development” that would place “serious demands” on existing public services.

He said the council needed to “protect” the natural beauty of the area, including the walking path recently developed as part of the Urban Greenway, and added: “We respectfully submit that there are at least two more suitable sites closer to the town centre for this type of development being either the OPW lands or Cavan County Council’s own proposal for the redevelopment of the Abbeylands. It would be a great addition to the town centre and a major contributor to the commercial success of the Abbeylands project.”

The OPW lands have since been utilised for the provision of modular units to house Ukrainian refugees.

A response to the appeal was submitted by Genesis Planning Consultants on behalf of Lisdaran Partnership.

A Bord inspector visited the site at Loreto Road in April 2023.

Stephanie Farrington noted that the site is adjoined by an existing farmhouse and outbuildings and the planned for nursing home access road to the north. Cavan General Hospital is located to the south of the site. Lands to the east and west of the site remain “undeveloped”.

Ms Farrington regared the development of a medical centre on the public and community zoned lands as “acceptable”, that “no design issues arise”, and the proposed medical centre had provided sufficient separation and landscaping to allow for privacy of adjoining residential units.

A masterplan drawing was submitted, and a flood risk assessment confirmed the site “is not at risk of flooding, nor will it cause flooding”.

Mr Elliott claimed the development should be refused on grounds including insufficient information, insufficient infrastructure to support the scale of development proposed and inappropriate use of lands in a residential and agricultural area.

Healthcare objectives

Lisdaran, through Newry based Genesis Planning Consultants, refuted this.

In her conclusion, Ms Farrington submitted that the siting of the proposed medical centre, within close proximity to Cavan General Hospital is in accordance with “economic and healthcare objectives” of the Cavan County Development Plan.

She concluded that the proposed development was in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The inspector noted it “would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety, would not constitute a flood risk, and would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area or property in the vicinity or be prejudicial to public health”.

Permission was granted by Cavan County Council with 32 conditions attached, including that Lisdarn Partnership pay the council €193,750 in development fees, as well as lodge a further €15,000 as contribution to public infrastructure upgrades.

Other conditions relate to access to and from the site, road safety, lighting, surface water and run-off, potential structural damage to public roads or pathways, as well as requiring an archaeological assessment of the site prior to construction.

The number of conditions imposed were reduced to 18 by the Bord inspector, to include that no additional development shall take place above roof parapet level, including lift motor enclosures, air handling equipment, storage tanks, ducts or other external plant; that a minimum of 10% of all communal car parking spaces should be provided with functioning EV charging stations/points; and full site treatment plans be submitted prior to work taking place.