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23/09/2021

Huge council levy puts redevelopment of Midlands hospital eyesore back on ice

Developers lodge appeal over plans for Midlands eyesore overhaul

Developers lodge appeal over their own Offaly nursing home approval

Developers lodge appeal over their own Offaly nursing home approval

Plans to redevelop an rusty steel eyesore on a busy Midlands road that is the remains of a Celtic Tiger private hospital for the Laois Offaly and other midlands counties is back on ice due to a dispute over money.

John Flanagan Developments Limited has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála in relation 'development contributions' bill levied by Offaly County Council following the planning authority’s recent granting of permission for a  four-storey, nursing home and step down facility on the Tullamore by-pass. 

When granting planning permission a developer is obliged to make a financial contribution in respect of public infrastructure and facilities benefiting development in the area of the Planning Authority.

In the case of John Flanagan Developments Ltd that figure is €225,738. The company argues that the scheme hasn't been properly applied in this case as it has already paid substantial contributions for a previous development on the same site.

The developer has stated it was pleased that Offaly County Council has determined that the development is acceptable in terms of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. However, it considers that the developer contribution requirement is onerous as it does not recognise previous contribution payments by them regarding the development at this site. Accordingly, it is considered that the contribution scheme has not been properly applied by the Council.

A contribution of €500,000 was paid by the applicant in respect of a development started in 2007, but not completed.

In its appeal, John Flanagan Developments contend that the local authority's development levy scheme makes it clear that double counting should not take place i.e. if a contribution has previously been made, then additional contributions should not be required for the same classes of infrastructure unless there is an increase in floorspace.

They say that in this case a contribution has been made and confirmed by Offaly County Council prior to development previously started on site. A building has been erected, although no actual usable floor space was created. Nevertheless, Offaly County Council retained the contribution and it is assumed that those monies were used for infrastructural development.

They argue that the national guidance seeks to ensure that contributions are not seen as a ‘cash cow’. The requirements to pay a contribution again for that development which has taken place is not reasonable and does not accord with the terms of the contribution scheme.

They say the required contribution of €225,738 could have an impact on viability and could restrict job creation.

Work is expected to start on the site in the Spring of 2022. The nursing home will contain 244 bedrooms, communal spaces, dining areas, administration, ancillary service spaces and meeting rooms. 

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