Council hands over part of Erne Hospital site

Published: 14th May 2015

Exciting Prospects for the former Erne Hospital Site

SWC Ekn. site 1 compressed

 

Last week Fermanagh and Omagh District Council acquired 13.16 acres of the former Erne Hospital site in Enniskillen at a cost of £1,350,000.  The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety retained two acres of the site for the development of a ‘state of the art’ Ambulance Centre.

Following the acquisition, the Council immediately sold just under five acres to the South West College to develop a £24 million European standard learning and education facility to replace its current campus at Gaol Square, Enniskillen.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will retain the remainder of the site for future development, and will actively liaise with other public sector organisations with a view to securing the development of further public sector services on the site.

The Council’s vision for the former Erne Hospital site is to create a shared public services hub which will bring together a number of public services onto the site, and the Council is delighted that, at this stage, two services have already committed to this vision. This approach by the Council was welcomed by the First and Deputy First Ministers following a presentation made to them in 2012.

The Enniskillen Masterplan, which was developed by the Department of Social Development, in partnership with Fermanagh District Council in 2012 to guide the development of the town centre over the next 20 years, identified the former Erne Hospital site as ‘an opportunity site’ within Enniskillen. In accordance with local government reform proposals, regeneration and community development will transfer to councils on 1 April 2016 and the redevelopment of the Erne Hospital site will be a significant project in the regeneration of Enniskillen.

The transfer of the site to the Council is the culmination of a multi agency approach, with many public sector bodies working together. The Council worked closely with the Strategic Investment Board and a range of statutory bodies to identify a preferred option for the redevelopment of the site. Specifically in the past few years the Council has also worked closely with Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, South West College, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and the Department for Employment and Learning, to bring this innovative and exciting project to this important stage. However this is only a start, and the Council is keen to drive forward further development of the public sector hub on the site that will improve accessibility to, and effectiveness of, public service provision in Enniskillen.

Speaking about the acquisition of the site by the Council and the sale of a portion to the South West College, Council Chairman, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly said

“The Council’s vision is to see the former Erne Hospital Site transferred into a shared public services hub, helping to improve access to public services for members of the public while increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.

I would like to thank in particular, the many government agencies and departments that have assisted the Council to reach this pivotal stage of this project.  The Council is keen to see the entire site regenerated and I strongly encourage public service agencies to assess the potential of the site and to commit to the development of the public sector hub. There is significant potential for other public bodies to work closely with the South West College to deliver on the Council’s vision for an integrated public sector facility on the site.

The regeneration plan for the site also envisages a link to the town centre via a pedestrian and cycle bridge, and this will actively be considered by the Council in its regeneration plans for the town.

The acquisition of the site this week is the culmination of a lot of hard work and is an exciting step for the regeneration of Enniskillen and in particular for the vacant Erne Hospital site.

I am delighted to see the ambitious plans of the South West College for its five-acre site, and the proposed development by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and I wish both organisations well with their future development. The state of the art facilities to be developed by Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, and by the South West College in particular, with its large student cohort, will bring a vibrancy to the site and will be a catalyst for further development of the site.”

Commenting on the handover of part of the site, the Director of the South West College Mr Malachy McAleer said “The College Governing Body and staff welcome this progression towards the achievement of a new South West College (SWC) Campus in Enniskillen – the transfer of this land is a watershed event.  Planning the new Campus has commenced and it will be the hub for many regional curriculum and business support developments.  Ambitious higher level skills provision and new innovation centres are planned.

The Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry, and his Department have been instrumental in driving this project forward. In addition, the new SWC Campus proposal has drawn support from all political parties and this has given it added momentum.

A consultation process has commenced within the College and with the wider community of Enniskillen.  This will ensure that the new development maximises the potential of the prestigious and historic Erne Hospital Site and that economic and community benefits are realised.”

The Assistant Director of Operations at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Mr Bryan Snoddy, also welcomed this milestone event saying “ NIAS is very pleased that the Erne Hospital site will retain a link to health services, as a site for a the new replacement Enniskillen ambulance station.  Maintaining ambulance services from this location has only been possible through the collaborative working of the Western Health & Social Care Trust, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, the South West College and government departments.  This public service hub project can only be of benefit to the town and surrounding area.”

 

 

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