Cllr John Clendennen pictured in his family pub in Kinnitty.

Long awaited Birr Primary Care Centre construction set for New Year start

Construction on the long-awaited Birr Primary Care Centre is due to begin early in the New Year with the facility expected to become fully operational within two years.

Kinnitty-based Fine Gael Cllr and Cathaoirleach of Birr Municipal District, John Clendennen told the Offaly Independent this week that “a number of issues” which were delaying the project have now been finalised and construction work is set to begin “early in 2024” with the building works expected to take “between 15 and 18 months to complete.”

Offaly County Council granted planning permission to BPI Investments, a Portarlington-based company, in March of this year for the construction of a Primary Care Centre on a site at the rear of the Outdoor Education Centre on the Roscrea Road.

The three-storey development spanning 4,060 square metres, makes provision for 807 square metres of GP surgery space, a pharmacy spanning 138 square metres and two consulting rooms totalling 34 square metres.

A two-storey ambulance base with single storey garage will also form part of the new development, along with 157 car-parking spaces, six motorcycle parking spaces, 50 bicycle spaces, 16 electrical charge points and traffic control barriers for employee parking.

It is expected that new development will provide primary care, public health, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech & language therapy, allied teams Facilities, dental and mental health services when it opens. It is also hoped that a GP Out of Hours Service can also be provided on the site.

“I am fully confident that, once the project gets underway, it will proceed without any further delays,” said Cllr Clendennen, who added that “given the scale and importance” of the building project he would rather see “any difficulties being ironed out before construction begins”.

Mayor of Birr Municipal District, Cllr John Carroll, said the new Primary Care Centre for Birr “is long overdue” and added that “there is nothing to hold up the project at this stage only getting the builders on site”.

While he said it was his understanding that construction work would start “before Christmas”, he expressed the hope that the project will start early in 2024. “I would very much welcome the start of building work, as would everyone else in the Birr area, as this is a very-badly needed facility, and one that we need to see being completed as quickly as possible.”

The plan to build a new Primary Care Centre in Birr was first mooted more than a decade ago and has been beset by difficulties ever since, primarily in relation to finding a suitable site to build on. Two sites, at Birr Rugby Club and a council-owned site at the Rectory Field, were rejected, before the site on the Roscrea road known' behind the Outdoor Education Centre was eventually earmarked for the development.

The full site encompasses 19 acres, but the Primary Care Centre is to be built on 3.5 acres of the site.