HSE urged to expedite land transfer for Castlebar sporting facilities
By Joan Geraghty
THE executive chairman of HSE West has been called on to push forward the transfer of HSE-owned land at Knockaphunta in Castlebar to Mayo County Council for the purpose of developing long-planned for public sporting facilities - failure to do so is causing delays in the development of the project.
Reasons cited in a written reply from the HSE for the delay included changes in personnel within both the HSE and Mayo County Council, followed by Covid, as well as the need for clarification around the lands agreed and flood risk maps of the area.
Additionally, ‘HSE requirements’ are cited among the reasons for the delay in regard to catering ‘for known and unknown future healthcare developments on the adjoining land’.
The HSE said it will notify the property committee in the coming weeks of minor boundary amendments. The transfer can then be progressed in parallel with this and the process to outline a phased masterplan for development of roads and utilities to serve the lands.
The issue was raised at the Health Forum West June meeting when Councillor Blackie Gavin said a lot of people are asking what is the delay.
Castlebar Town Council gave the green light for planning back in 2014. A lot of work went into drawing up plans and yet, eight years on, they still have no land and this is preventing the council applying for sports capital funding.
Said Councillor Gavin: "It’s one of the main capital projects in Mayo’s county town and we are trying to turn our town into a centre of sporting excellence.
"It is a shovel-ready project, ready to go. Phase one is already done with the swimming pool and the gym and now we are awaiting the land transfer for phase two.
"I am disappointed the land transfer is taking so long. "
People, he said, are crying out for the new eight-lane running track and additional sporting developments.
In the written response, HSE Estates assistant director Joe Hoare said the transfer had ‘taken a lot longer than anyone could have expected or desired, mainly due to the impact of changes in personnel within both the HSE and Mayo County Council, followed by Covid’.
There were various iterations of the land transfer maps which required clarification or verification as to what was approved in the Part 8 and what was approved by the HSE property transaction process. Also, flood risk maps have since become available and been considered in more recent interactions between the parties.
The process of reconciling of maps is now substantially complete.
Discussions at the time also recognised the need to jointly service the future requirements of Mayo County Council, which at the time of the Part 8 were for playing fields and associated amenity lands with regard to road access, parking and utilities - and the HSE requirements, albeit different and less defined at that time, but nonetheless needed to cater for known and unknown future healthcare developments on the adjoining land.
Since last year there has been engagement between the parties which has provided a better understanding of matters of concern.
'In line with the HSE’s property protocol, HSE will notify the property committee in the coming weeks of minor boundary amendments at Knockaphunta. The land transfer can then be progressed in parallel with this and the process to outline a phased masterplan for orderly development of the roads and utilities to serve the lands at Knockphunta.'
Councillor Gavin appealed to the HSE West chief executive to expedite the transfer, stating: "This is like a whole university campus development, and this is the last part. I ask Tony Canavan to push for the transfer so we can get the funding - as it would be done otherwise."