The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has been given permission by An Bord Plean├íla to build a new €90m education and research building to extend its city centre campus. According to The Irish Times, the building will be seven storeys in height and will include research labs, classrooms, catering and recreational facilities.

RCSI has been backed with a €40m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to develop the building, which will require the demolition of a vacant office block at the site of the former Eircom headquarters, the Ardilaun Centre. It will also take over the site of a smaller office building on Proud’s Lane.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement with the EIB last October, RSCI CEO Prof Cathal Kelly said that the new development would mark “the most exciting and transformative phase” of the institution’s journey.

“Our campus has constantly evolved to meet the medical challenges and opportunities of each new generation,” he said.

“The redevelopment of Ardilaun Block A will further transform the way in which we educate our students so they can learn, grow and prepare to take their place as the medical leaders of the 21st century. It will also provide a space that engages and involves the local community and plays a dynamic role in the life of the city.”

In the planning documents, consultants acting for RCSI said the new site would enliven the surrounding area of the city in what they claimed was an underutilised site.

“The proposed development is central to the college’s ability to attract high quality students and staff,” they said.

Issues raised
An Bord Pleanála upheld the decision of Dublin City Council to approve the development, despite opposition from local residents and An Taisce. The planning board rejected complaints made by both parties, with RCSI having previously revised its original plans by removing one storey from the development over fears its visual impact would be overbearing on nearby residents.

The Cuffe Lane Residents Homeowners group raised concerns over potential disruption caused by any construction work, but still broadly approved the development. However, An Taisce said that the plans did not take into account the “historic environs of St Stephen’s Green” or nearby historic sites such as the adjoining Unitarian church.

RCSI is the second academic institution to announce an expansion in Dublin 2 in recent years, with Trinity College Dublin in January receiving Government backing worth €150m for its planned €1bn expansion in the so-called ‘Silicon Docks’ area of the city centre.

The plan is to build a 5.5-acre campus in the Grand Canal Dock district, which will also be a hub for start-ups, a landing zone for foreign direct investment (FDI) companies as well as home to a community of venture capital companies, and public and civic spaces.

Colm Gorey
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