Pieta House to appeal planning permission decision for Tallaght base

Pieta House to appeal planning permission decision for Tallaght base

By Mary Dennehy

PIETA House has appealed a council decision to refuse planning permission for the charity to establish Pieta Tallaght in a local business park – an appeal which is being supported by the HSE on the grounds that Dublin South West has the highest rate of presentations to hospital for self-harm nationally.

In March of this year, Pieta House lodged a planning application which sought the change of use of part of the existing Youthreach training building from education to the provision of medical and/or health services.

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The proposed development would occupy around 10 per cent of the existing building, with Youthreach, which provides education and training to young people who have left the formal education system, continuing to operate out of the rest of the building.

The charity, which was forced to close its centre in Jobstown in 2014, has been trying to find a new Tallaght base – with 727 people last year attending Pieta Tallaght when it was relocated to the Ballyfermot centre, which is almost two people from Tallaght accessing services each day.

However, county planners refused permission for the proposed development in the Tallaght Business Centre, which lies off the Whitestown Road, as the proposed development is located within an existing business park setting and not “integrated” into a community setting.

According to the council: “The proposed development would set an undesirable precedent for other similar healthcare facilities located within inappropriate business park settings which would in themselves and cumulatively be harmful to the successful integration of healthcare facilities into existing communities.”

The decision has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála (ABP), with the HSE and Youthreach supporting the appeal.

In a letter to ABP, Kevin Brady, the HSE Lead for Mental Health locally, wrote: “Dublin South West, in which Tallaght is located, has the highest rate of presentations to hospital for self-harm nationally.

“Over the past year, the HSE, through the Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention, has been working to re-locate Pieta Tallaght back into the heart of the Tallaght community to make it accessible to all people in the area who are experiencing distress and suicidal intent.

“The location identified by Pieta House in Whitestown Business Park is an appropriate and sustainable premises that will allow them to continue to support the Tallaght community.”

Emer O’Rourke, co-ordinator of Tallaght Youthreach, said: “Mental health has become a big issue nationally, but our target group is perceived as some of the vulnerable in society, particularly our young males.

“Last year we endeavoured to assist a number of young people from our service who we deemed at serious risk of taking their own lives to engage with Pieta House [in both Ballyfermot and Lucan].”

She added: “There is a huge need in Tallaght for the services of Pieta House, and locating them beside our service means ensured access for some of the most vulnerable families in the community.

“The beautiful surroundings of Whitestown Industrial Estate create a green and fresh environment . . . and the estate is quiet and protected by security, offering a neutral and safe space for its clients.”

The case is due to be decided by An Bord Pleanála on October 9.

To contact Pieta House call its Ballyfermot base on 6200020 or visit its website www.pieta.ie for services.