Works on the provision of a new mental health facility in Tuam – to be housed in the old Grove Hospital that closed more than 25 years ago – could begin in a matter of months.
It is anticipated that tender documents for the day hospital and disability unit will be ready next month at which point a contractor will be sought to build the new facility.
Galway East TD Sean Canney believes that works could commence this summer on the old Grove Hospital.
“This is an iconic building in the town centre and it is important that we bring it back into use. There had been fears that it would have been left idle but thankfully this is not the case,” he sai.
Last year green light has been granted for a multi-million euro mental health facility in Tuam – despite concerns that the development would interfere with the integrity of a burial ground on the old Grove Hospital site.
Fears have been expressed that the part demolition of the old Bon Secours Hospital and the provision of a mental health unit could have a negative impact on the unofficial burial of babies in unconsecrated graves.
Planning permission for the conversion of the old Grove Hospital was granted by Galway County Council – but this became the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanala by an Oranmore woman who believes her infant brother is buried there.
But An Bord Pleanala rejected the appeal and granted permission for the development subject to seven conditions being complied with.
One of the conditions stated that the appointment of a conservation expert be appointed. They will manage the removal of stained glass windows from the building to ensure the integrity and protection of the historic fabric of the building.
There was no mention of the protection of any children’s burial ground in the decision to grant planning for the mental health unit on the site of the old Grove Hospital.
However, the Health Service Executive were asked to facilitate the preservation, protection and recording of archaeological materials or features that may exist within the site.
Deputy Canney has welcomed the progress and said that it would compliment the Primary Care Centre which has been completed on the site while there are also moves to provide a community nursing home on the same site.
It is proposed to carry out the works in two phases. The first phase will involve the part demolition of a two-storey extension that was constructed in the 1960s and the refurbishment of the ground floor and first floor of the existing hospital building.
The works will also involve the reconfiguration of the car park to the front of the building providing 20 spaces and the provision of a new car park to the rear of the hospital which will have 26 additional spaces.
The second phase will require some further demolition to the existing building and refurbishment works to the remaining sections of the first and second floors along with the old chapel, where the sittings of Tuam District Court were held up until recently.