Closing statement on behalf of the Jack & JillFoundation in relation to the proposed National Children’s Hospital at St James’s Campus

The evidence by Jonathan Irwin, the CEO of the Jack & Jill Foundation, against the proposal was supported by the evidence of the following:

  • Ciaran Mc Keon of Transport Insights;
  • Diarmuid Keaney from ICAN Acoustics;
  • Richard Butler CSR Landscape Architects;
  • Dr Imelda Shanahan of TMS Environmental Ltd; and
  • Eamonn Prenter of CSR Town Planning
  • Jack & Jill and the Needs of Children and Families

The powerful evidence given by Jonathan Irwin gave a unique insight into very specific requirements of a children’s hospital not given by the applicant and by many of those involved in the area of medical expertise. I genuinely believe that his views and insights from the families of those involved permeates to all 5 no. assessments referred to above.

The specific requirements of a children’s hospital are quite different to a general and even a maternity hospital. For example, is it really feasible to wake children up at all times, day or night, from the use of helicopters however infrequent? Is it appropriate that parents carrying many essential items of equipment will be expected to bring these onto public transport such as the bus or Luas? Jonathan referred to ‘his’ children as being the ‘frequent flyers’ of sick babies and children. His informed practical opinion should be considered very carefully regarding the suitability of this site and location for the proposed children’s facility.

Jack and Jill supports the provision of a National Children’s Hospital but not in this location for the following reasons under the necessary technical assessments:

Highly Undesirable Transport and Traffic Impacts
The key transport and traffic points at the Hearing were as follows:

  • Arising from failure to follow international best practice in undertaking the assessment, traffic impacts are at best massively underestimated due to underestimated staff and visitor patient trips, traffic reductions and increases in other traffic, and inappropriate trip distributions assumptions or at worst unknown due to inappropriate traffic modelling software, a failure to validate the traffic models and a failure to assess periods of peak network congestion (ie from 8-9am and 5-6pm).
  • Compounded by underestimated traffic impacts, access to the proposed development is seriously impaired for car, bus, and crucially emergency vehicles. The access at Mount Brown is technically deficient in that emerging large vehicles will have to encroach onto the other side of the road at this point.
  • There are no continuous bus lanes in the vicinity of the proposed facility and there are insufficient bus lanes to permit free access for ambulances who can only be facilitated by two lanes of traffic both encroaching into cycle lanes.
  • The proposed development’s transport strategy is overly ambitious and is highly dependent on staff access by public transport and by cycle. Accessibility to the site on each mode from staff working at the three children’s hospital will be poor, requiring excessively longer journey times to and from work. Very few staff travel more than 45 minutes to work, and the majority less than 30 minutes. Due to the lack of on-site staff car parking, excessive journey times by public transport and by bicycle will negatively impact upon staff’s satisfaction, retention and recruitment.
  • Achieving the 27% staff mode share target for staff is dependent on off-site car parking (either in the vicinity of the hospital site) which is outside the control of the applicant (changes to residents’ permits requires a plebiscite which we are reliably informed by the residents will simply not happen). The traffic impacts of park and ride have not been assessed by the applicant despite having strong potential to significantly add to traffic congestion.
  • Proposed patient and visitor car parking is insufficient to accommodate visitor car parking requirements, which is dependent on unsupported assumptions regarding a 65% mode share for outpatient and non-consultant clinic appointments and a maximum of 16 no. visitors parked on-site during visiting hours.
  • Due to an underestimation of childrens’ hospital related car parking requirements, excessively high on-site car parking charges of up to €7.00 per hour may be required to manage parking demand.
  • Overspill car parking is accepted by the traffic/transport witness for the applicant as likely to occur in the surrounding area (potentially to Rialto village and beyond).

Unacceptable Noise and Vibration Impacts
The key noise and vibration impacts are as follows:

  • The applicant has been selective in the use of less onerous construction noise limiting levels and guidance and have not given adequate consideration to the likely construction noise duration of 46 months. Although BS5228 is cited, lower construction noise limiting levels have been ignored as has the potential requirement for the temporary re-housing of residents for long duration construction projects. The NRA guidelines on construction noise were developed for forward moving road schemes and not stationary long term construction projects.
  • Vibration calculations were not given in the EIS chapter on Noise and Vibration and whilst specified limiting levels have been given there is no evidence of a risk assessment nor indeed the location of vibration sensitive areas in the existing noise sensitive St James’s Hospital.
  • The degree of noise change from traffic proposed is considered as it is small and insignificant but no attempt has been made to consider the impact of helicopter noise. The source of noise is considered ‘noise excusable’ and the mitigation presented seems to be the infrequency of such activities. It would be highly ironic that local children in the residential areas in the area would be woken at potentially all hours of the day and night by children accessing the hospital by helicopter. The frequency of helicopters coming in to land and take off cannot be guaranteed and has not been accurately predicted given the facility’s national status.
  • The applicant has neither witnessed nor measured an actual Medevac helicopter landing and has grossly underestimated the duration of such an event. The predicted noise is underestimated using a single AW139 helicopter using 3rd party noise data from the Air Corp and not an actual Medevac event. The noise impact of helicopters likely to use the helipad has not been adequately considered therefore.
  • Recent evidence from the applicant is that the helipad was designed (future proofed) for larger and heavier helicopters (up to 12 tonnes and 21 m in length) yet the only helicopter considered is the 6 tonne AW139. No attempt has been made to assess the likely noise impact of larger craft. Search and Rescue could provide a larger aircraft and this could form a new requirement. If the helipad has been designed to cater for aircraft up to 12 tonnes then consideration of a 6 tonne craft is simply insufficient in terms of assessing likely noise impact.
  • While IAA guidance is cited by the applicant’s noise consultant they ignore specific guidance on noise which should be taken into account when planning and considering operations (see IAA OAM 08/00, Item 3.8).
  • The applicant has not considered the implications of a natural building ventilation strategy in such close proximity to helipad by providing openable windows in all hospital bedrooms. A helipad 55m from the nearest noise sensitive bedroom will result in sleeping accommodation which would not be fit for purpose should Medevac events take place at night or possibly during daytime patient rest hours. There is conflicting opinions in the applicant’s evidence where the noise consultant advised that a robust ventilation strategy ‘is being designed’ by the design team to control inbound helicopter noise yet the project architect in evidence advised that the hospital room ventilation does not consider inbound helicopter noise.
  • Whilst the noise consultant for the applicant cites the UK’s Health Technical Memorandum – 08 (HTM-08) he has ignored its guidance on ‘sporadic events’ relating to helicopter noise. HTM-08 suggests the use of a devised strategy in relation to helicopter noise control and careful planning of the hospital layout. However, there is no such indication of this in the EIS Chapter on Noise and Vibration. In terms of alternative locations for the proposed helipad the 5 options are ‘much of a muchness’ in noise terms of patients and existing residents.

Negative Impact on Visual Amenity and the Landscape
The key points from the assessment on the above carried out by Jack and Jill is summarised as follows:

  • The scale of building proposed is inappropriate in its context, that being the existing townscape (which is particularly fine grained) and in terms of planning policy for the low rise inner city, and for transitional areas in particular.
  • The proposed building is some 300m in length and over 100m in width which is significantly larger than Croke Park Stadium. It is also as high as Croke Park. The proposed development will generate a significant, permanent negative impact on residential amenity in the locality including the adjacent Residential Conservation Area.
  • No matter what the architectural quality the massing and height of the proposed building and the conflict in architectural styles, scale, form, materials, textures and colours would result in a significant negative impact on views.
  • We also have concerns not only about the views from the public realm, which were assessed in the EIS, but also the views from private gardens and the windows of living rooms, kitchens and bedroom windows. We have a particular concern about the building at night. The extensive glazed panelling intended to soften the building’s presence in the daytime would increase its presence at night time, with the building casting a significant glow over its surroundings.
  • The character and quality of open space proposed have been severely constrained by the selection of this site. Nearly all of the open space proposed is located on and within the building. The sense of containment experienced by the children in hospital would be exacerbated by the so called ‘open’ spaces provided. Rather than seeking to create a semblance of landscape and nature within the building, the hospital could be sited so that the building is situated within landscape and nature. Such a hospital would have a completely different character and quality, and offer patients and their families a completely different experience.

Significant Adverse Impact on Air Quality
A significant adverse impact on air quality has been demonstrated by Jack and Jill’s air quality advisors.

  • The only complete air quality assessment of the proposed development was undertaken by Dr. Imelda Shanahan on behalf of Jack and Jill.
  • Several breaches of EU air quality standards were proven and a number of WHO standards were also exceeded.
  • No particulate matter assessment was undertaken and presented to the Board by the applicant.
  • An assessment for nitrogen dioxide was undertaken by the applicant but an incorrect methodology was applied when evaluating the results. When the correct methodology is applied the applicants own results show a significant breach of EU standards.
  • Dr Shanahan fundamentally disagrees with Ms Blennerhassett’s position that emissions are determined by usage. This is incorrect. It is made on capacity. The relevant guidelines expect that the proper assessment looks at maximum emissions and that means the installed capacity. In our view we still do not have complete clarity and transparency on energy usage.
  • No assessment on energy requirements for the CRIC were ever provided.
  • The Greenhouse Gas Permit was never considered in the context of all energy requirements on site. The Inspector must consider with some incredulity that a new 4,000,000 litre storage tank for oil is being installed for just a single 200 hour use. We do not accept that the natural gas connection (new or existing) will be capable of running during engineering and subterranean works nor that they will only need to be disconnected for ½ day considering the extent of subterranean works involved with this project.
  • There is a significant ‘missing link’ in the air borne pollution assessment carried out by Dr Porter and the subsequent assessments carried out by Dr Hogan on health and safety; Dr Aebhinn Cawley on the Appropriate Assessment; and finally by Matt Hague on the impact on Flora and Fauna. The various assessments have failed to consider whether air-borne pollutants, specifically Nitrous Oxide, will intersect with any Natura 2000 sites and the potential impact on these sites. This missing link remains and is a significant failing in the assessments.
  • The criticisms expressed by the applicant of Dr. Shanahan’s work including her air dispersal modelling is both withering and superficial. No valid evidence or alternative methodologies have been presented by the applicant to the contrary.
  • In Dr Shanahan’s strong professional opinion the proposed development cannot safely be allowed to proceed. There is, at the very least, very significant doubt expressed about the likely impact on air quality and the Inspector should be both prudent and cautious and refuse planning permission.

Why Planning Permission Should Be Refused
Jack and Jill’s planning case is based on the following:

  • There are a number of significantly adverse impacts, rather than any one reason, that indicate that the proposal is inconsistent with the proper planning and sustainable development of the site and the area.
  • While the proposal is facilitated by a number of strategic and local planning policies there are also a significant number of policies that the proposal is contrary to including those relating to building height, abrupt differences of scale and height in areas of transition, and the protection of residential amenity in residential Conservation Areas.
  • We would ask the Inspector to very carefully consider that the Z15 zoning within which the site is located has the following clear objective: ‘To protect and provide for institutional and community uses and to ensure that existing amenities are protected.’ Existing amenities in the terms of the Z15 zoning are most clearly not protected in terms of traffic, noise, air quality and landscape and visual impact.
  • The proposed development presents a long (300m long and 100m wide), uninterrupted and over scaled development, the size of Croke Park, in a fine grained location. It is clearly a manipulation of site coverage and plot ratio standards.
  • We believe that the proposed development is piecemeal development and should be refused planning permission accordingly. There is no adopted masterplan for the campus despite the fact that (a) one was unequivocally considered an important ‘first planning step’ in the Clear Martin Planning Risk Assessment Report of 3 years ago, and (b) the Board themselves in formal pre-application discussions within the past few months have clearly documented the requirement for such a master plan. Mr Prenter in evidence indicated that his planning experience was that masterplans are entirely suited to campus developments particularly where there is diverse ownership, contrary to what is unjustifiably stated by the applicant. The issue of tri-location and the clear advantage that such an aspiration gave St James’s demands a masterplan and one should have been provided.
  • We do not quite follow the reasoning that an Appropriate Assessment should be carried out for the entire site prior to the adoption of the current Draft Capacity Study. Such a position on an adopted Site Capacity study only serves to undermine the document on site capacity that the applicants have actually produced.

Finally, it was stated by the applicant at both the Preliminary Hearing, and on the first day of the Hearing proper, that the applicant would be responding to all objections and observations in a ‘forensic’ manner. We feel that this has failed to materialise over the course of the Hearing and that the overwhelming empirical and detailed evidence presented at the Hearing has come from the Jack and Jill Foundation.

For this and the various reasons stated above we believe that the case for the proposed development has not been proven and that planning permission should be refused consistent with the preservation of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

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