by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon Council tonight passed plans for an ambitious Health Hub project in Rathfriland, County Down. The project is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Brian McConville, MJM Group who owns businesses including MJM Marine, Mivan and Topglass.

McConville is also in the running for a Heathrow Logistics Hub at the former Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly, Limavady.

The Health Hub in Rathfriland which was brought to Council with no objections following extensive community consultation was passed without issue. The Hub was developed to respond to local concerns about health care provision following the closure of a GP practice in the town. The John Street Health Village is heavily oversubscribed and not fit for purpose. Various plans to upgrade the facilities were pursued over the years, to no avail. The scheme brought forward by McConville’s property division Rathbane Holdings will see the development of a GP surgery and associated facilities (pharmacy, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dentist, opticians), 140-bedroom nursing home, a number of retirements homes and 14 assisted living apartments at the Newry Street site.

Brian McConville said, “We are absolutely delighted that we have been able to bring this vision through the planning process. I am from Rathfriland and I have seen the difficult situation current health care providers and patients are experiencing in the town. It is almost two years ago when I sat down with my team and said ‘what can we do to help’. We started a process of engagement with the GPs, Rathfriland Regeneration Committee, local people and the Council. A GPs facility built and managed by a private entity is not sustainable on its own, so we came up with the hub concept. This will allow the GPs to run their services from state-of-the-art facilities with extensive, accessible parking subsidised by the other private services on the site.”

This is a relatively new concept of delivering healthcare- mixing public and private services, and one which will represent a significant investment in the Rathfriland area.

The team behind the proposal would like to be on the ground before the end of the year. Rathbane Holdings and the McConville family have been supported by a team of architects and consultants including TSA Planning, Avanti Architects, Kevin McShane Ltd.


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