Plans are very much still ongoing for the £26 million Rathfriland Health Village.
PLANS are continuing behind the scenes on Rathfriland’s Medical Village a year after it received unanimous support from the local council’s planning committee, writes Laura Barr.
The Outlook can confirm that engagement with key stakeholders is taking place on the proposed state-of-the-art health and wellbeing facility for the Rathfriland area.
In a statement to this newspaper, MJM Group Head of Property, Barry McStravick said: “We are continuing to engage with key stakeholders on the proposed state of the art health and wellbeing facility for the Rathfriland area.
“Undoubtedly the last 12 months have presented extremely challenging circumstances, especially for those working in the health sector," he said.
“The impact of the pandemic on health and social care has only further highlighted the importance and requirement for high quality primary care facilities.
“We are optimistic that as we continue to progress the necessary stakeholder engagements in the coming months, the proposed scheme will meet the specific needs of the area in the future.
“As an organisation formed in Rathfriland which continues to have many of our people still living in the town and surrounding areas, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the GPs and all of the staff in the John Street Health Centre for the service they have continued to provide through these unprecedented times.”
Spearheading the ambitious £26.3million pound project is Rathfriland businessman Mr Brian McConville, MJM Group Director.
Planning was submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in April 2019 for the new medical village.
In an interview with this newspaper at that time, Mr McConville said the project was a “very exciting and personal” one based on his grandfather’s land.
Earmarked for Newry Street, the idea for the ambitious project came about by Mr McConville following the departure of Dr Sloan’s surgery in 2018.
This placed a huge strain on neighbouring GP practices including Rathfriland Health Centre and Ballyward GP practice, with the majority of the 2,700 patients moving to these surgeries.
Just before the Covid-19 pandemic gripped society last March, planning approval was granted for the application with no objections by council’s Planning Committee.
The news back in February of last year was met with relief and excitement from the local community.
Letters of support from a number of local sources in the town and surrounding areas accompanied the application, confirming the project as a “necessary community facility”.
The scheme brought forward by Mr McConville’s property division, Rathbane Holdings will see the development of a GP surgery and associated facilities including a pharmacy, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dentist and opticians.
Also included in the proposal are plans for a 140-bedroom nursing home, a number of retirement homes and 14 assisted living apartments.
The site will also provide four single storey retirement homes as well as five two storey town houses designed to suit multi-generational use.
Fourteen assisted living apartments will also be provided to cater for a range of individual’s needs.
Support facilities located on site adjacent to the new care home, such as indoor and outdoor therapy and activity spaces will cater for both the residents of the nursing home as well as those in assisted living apartments.