Location chosen for Birr Primary Care Centre

Location chosen for Birr Primary Care Centre

The map below shows the Rectory Site, taken from the Birr Town & Environs Development Plan 2010-2016 (Extended until 2020)

Derek Fanning

Reporter:

Derek Fanning

Email:

deputyeditor@midlandtribune.ie

A location has finally been chosen for a new Primary Care Centre in Birr, after years of deliberations on the matter.

Monday evening’s meeting of Birr Municipal District in Birr Civic Offices was told by the Director of Services Frank Heslin that the Council and the HSE have been in discussions in recent months and the Council is strongly favouring one site in particular..

The issue has had a long and chequered history and an application for a different location for the Centre was turned down by the County Councillors in 2018. They objected to it because they were worried about possible negative impacts which such a development might have on the town. Now, however, their fears have been allayed and most, if not all, of the councillors are backing the new location.

Frank Heslin told Monday’s meeting that the location will be the large tract of field known as the Rectory Land behind John’s Hall on John’s Mall. This extensive area had been earmarked for a very long time for social housing, for perhaps twenty to thirty houses. The property is owned by the Council and Mr Heslin said the Council is keen to position the new Primary Care Centre on the site. He said social housing might still be built there, as well as community facilities of some other type, including car parking.

“We think this will be an ideal location for the Care Centre as it’s centrally located and it won’t have any adverse impact on the businesses in the town.”

Cllr John Leahy said he was happy to back this new location. “The reason we objected the last time is we weren’t happy with the location and we wanted to do what we could to protect Birr.”

Cllr John Clendennen welcomed the news, pointing out that it’s a very good location. However, he pointed out that it’s important the Centre is built as quickly as possible, because it is very badly needed in the town, and some of these major projects have a habit of dragging on interminably. “We need to ensure the timeline is as short as possible. Our medical service is under pressure in the town and a Care Centre is dearly desired. The General Practitioners are all behind it because they are under more pressure than ever.” He said there has been considerable misinformation bandied around over the years about the Care Centre and he hoped that this will have now come to an end.

Cllr John Carroll also warmly welcomed the news. “This is a very positive move,” he remarked. “We looked at a number of possible sites including this Council-owned location and this was definitely the best. The town’s GPs are very keen that we proceed with this as quickly as possible.” He commended the Council executive and the HSE for working positively together on the matter of finding a site for the Centre..

Cllr Clare Claffey said it’s an ideal site. “Hopefully, it will also have an out of hours GP service because the loss of Midoc was very badly felt in this area. Hopefully it will also have a diagnostic doctor utilising an x-ray service. I am very happy to support this location. It’s been obvious for a very long time now that the health service is under pressure in Birr and a Care Centre is badly needed.”

Cllr Eamon Dooley, Chairman of Birr Municipal District, agreed with Cllr Clendennen that the timeline should be as short as possible. “This needs to be opened to the public as quickly as possible. We all hope that we will see the designs for the Centre in the near future.”

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