Planning row: Location 'met with HSE requirements for dialysis unit'
Wexford County Council requested further information from Fresenius on April 13, informing the company that the planning authority could consider granting planning permission for the dialysis unit based on urgent public need if it could demonstrate that the unit would not restrict the existing and future use of the adjoining lands in Whitemill Industrial Estate for manfuacturing.
The local authority told John Spain Associates, the planning and development consultants acting for Fresenius that it must submit clarification from the HSE and a medical consultant to show that manufacturing, civic recycling, refuse transfer and transport depot uses would be acceptable activities adjacent to a dialysis unit.
John Spain Associates responded in a lengthy submission received by the Council three months later on July 11, outlining the 'clear established need' for a dialysis unit at the location to ease the burden of Wexford patients having to make an hour-long return journey to Waterford three times a week for treatment.
'The Health Service Executive's National Renal Programme 2009 states that the number of patients requiring dialysis is increasing and proposes a strategy of renal dialysis satellite centres to address demand.'
'The purpose of the HSE programme is to increase the provision of renal clinics throughout the country in order to remove the need for renal patients who do not require acute treatment to visit hospitals, both in order to free up valuable hospital space and to treat patients closer to their homes in a non-hospital environment, thereby improving their quality of life,' the planning consultants said.
'As such the proposed development complies with the HSE's requirements to expand renal dialysis in the area and represents a strategic element of medical infrastructure for the county,' said John Spain Associates.
They went on to say that the applicant was selected following a tender process carried out by the HSE to provide and operate the unit. The tenderer was required to identify the site for the proposed unit.
The proposed site was assessed by the HSE and it was apparent from the award of the tender to Fresenius that the location met the requirements of the HSE for a renal dialysis unit.
'The HSE tender was site specific having looked at many sites in Wexford and it was determined that the current usage of the premises surrounding Acorn Fashions was not at odds with the proposed site as a dialysis unit.'
'The building is ideal as it is on a good road network with easy access, it is the right size and most importantly comprises ground floor occupation which is essential for dialysis in terms of access.'
'In the event that planning permission is not approved...Fresenius would be forced to abandon the proposed site and the consequences would be that the HSE would have to re-tender this project in order to comply with European Procurement Law.'
'This would cause significant delays in the provision of a dialysis unit in Wexford, for which there is a clear and identified urgent public need.'
'It is considered likely by Fresenius that were this scenaria to occur, a dialysis unit could not be provided in Wexford for the forseeable future, as all available potential sites were examined but none were considered suitable,' said John Spain Associates.
In relation to the effect on existing use of adjoining buildings and lands, they said the applicant was fully satisfied that the proposed unit was compatible with existing uses in the surrounding area.
They quoted a letter dated 26 January 2016 from the HSE enclosed with the planning applicatin, stating that 'the HSE is satisfied that the site at the former Acorn Fashion unit is an appropriate site for the proposed haemodialysis unit in Wexford.'
In relation to existing use, they said that while known as Whitemill Industrial Estate, the present uses of the estate are largely of a non-industrial nature including a supermarket, medical centre, pharmacy, Council depot, accountancy office, childcare centre and HSE offices.
'The presence of Whitemill Medical Centre and McCauley Pharmacy, in particular, provide precedent for medical uses at this location.
Regarding future use, John Spain Associates said the applicant could not comment on the compatibility of the renal unit wqith a potential future use for which there is currently no proposal.
'Any future use would need to be considered by the planning authority on its merits, having regard to the potential impact on existing/estab lished uses in Whitemill Industrial Estate'.
'Any future proposed use would need to demonstrate that it is compatible with existing uses in Whitemill Industrial Estate, many of which are of a commercial, office and medical nature,.'
'We understand from discussions with the County Council that there may be future propsoal for a waste recycling facilities at the existing Council depot lands neighbouring the application site. there is no current proposal for this use. Any such use would have the potential to negatively impact upon the renal dialysis use. Our client has advised that a renal dialysis use would not be compatible with a waste recycling centre on an adjacent site due to the environmental issues arising from the use as a waste recycling centre. It is considered likely that any other existing occupiers in the area would have similar concerns in relation to such a potential use,' they submitted.
They quoted Policy C15 of the Wexford Town Plan which states that:'applications for creches and play schools within a new or existing place of work or in proximity therof, such as an industrial estate, will be favourably considered'.
On behalf of the application, John Spain Associates pointed that there is an existing creche on the industgrial estate and the comability of a proposed waste recycling plant with such uses would have to be assessed by the planning authority and the user.
'However, as there is no current proposal for such a use on the adjacent site, our client has no concerns in relation to the compatibility of the proposed renal dialysis unit with the existing uses in the area.