Portlaoise drug centre ‘not acceptable in principle’

The cleared site beside St Fintan's in Portlaoise, planned by the HSE for an addiction treatment centre.
County councillors could have the final say on a major alcohol and drug addiction treatment centre on Portlaoise’s Dublin Road, which currently contravenes the local area plan for the town.

County councillors could have the final say on a major alcohol and drug addiction treatment centre on Portlaoise’s Dublin Road, which currently contravenes the local area plan for the town.

The proposal by the HSE would see the Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS), which is currently based at Coote Street Portlaoise, relocated to a purpose-built 400sqm treatment and therapy centre on the campus of St Fintan’s Hospital on the town’s Dublin Road.

However, the application has been put on hold pending further information from the HSE at the request of Laois County Council.

As the majority of the site is zoned ‘Amenity and Open Space’, the council says that the proposed development “is not acceptable in principle”.

The council has told the HSE that in order for the project to goahead, a material contravention of the Portlaoise Local Area Plan 2012 - 2018 is needed which would require councillors to vote on the issue if planners approved the plan.

Apart from the zoning issue, the council has other issues with the project. Planners want to know how many patients are expected to attend the centre, as well as what provisions will be made for parking spaces for bicycle users.

If approved, the centre would house various local and national addiction services under one roof. Among the services available will be Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Midland Simon, Anna Liffey Drug Project, Merchant’s Quay Ireland and any other services as appropriate. An alternative therapy service will also be available.

The expected hours of operation for the new centre are 8am to 8pm weekdays, with some infrequent services operated over weekends.

The HSE believes that the new site at Gate Lodge on the St Fintan’s campus would be most suitable, especially given its proximity to Portlaoise Prison as some former inmates will be attending CADS upon their release as a step down programme.