Isolation fears scupper Nua's plans for new healthcare home in Portarlington

Council rejects proposed development

By Ryan Dunne

Reporter:

By Ryan Dunne

Email:

ryan@leinsterexpress.ie

 Nua Healthcare facility

One of Nua Healthcare's facilities in Portarlington.

Nua Healthcare Services have been refused permission by Laois County Council to build a new residential care unit in Portarlington, as the council feared the rural location could have caused isolation or access difficulties to the users of the service.

Nua had applied for permission to change an existing dwelling to a residential care unit, and construct a 235 sqm single storey extension to the building, at Rathbeag, Lea Road, Portarlington.

In their application they said the existing bungalow is used “to provide a community based dwelling for people with Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries”.

The applicants stated that the individuals using the site suffer from conditions which lead to difficulties with social interaction and anxiety issues, allowing service users to balance the quiet requirements of a quiet environment while preventing over isolation.

The proposal was to accommodate seven service users and 9+ staff, as well as facilitate visitors. The current occupancy of the premises is four service users with two residential staff and additional shiftwork staff providing care during the day.

The applicant also proposed building eight additional car parking spaces to the rear of the subject building.

However, the plans were rejected by Laois County Council, who said that the proposed site, located in an unserviced rural area characterised by one-off houses and farmsteads, conflicts with the Laois County Development Plan, 2011-2017.

It said that the council’s policy is to “encourage the integration of healthcare facilities… and discourage proposals that would cause unnecessary isolation or other access difficulties, particularly for the disabled, the elderly and children”.

The council said that the required levels of services to accommodate the proposed development, such as footpaths, public lighting, shops, social or community services, are not available in the local rural area.

The council felt that the applicant did not include a detailed justification on why this particular service has to be located in this particular rural unserviced location.