Developers slam hospital site selection process
MAJOR developers who had their land ruled out for the new Tweed Valley Hospital site have slammed NSW Health Infrastructure's selection process.
More than 35 sites were considered for the much-needed $534million hospital before the controversial Cudgen farmland site was selected, causing an uproar among the farming and Kingscliff communities.
Gales Holdings director Dr Stephen Segal, who put forward a site of more than 40ha in Chinderah at the northern end of Tweed Coast Rd, opposite the Chinderah Golf Course, said he suspected Health Infrastructure did not even look at his submission.
Dr Segal said his land was "superior to the site chosen in every important respect, except for being in the floodplain”.
"Being in the floodplain is obviously a very important consideration, and so Gales commissioned and included a flood report to specifically assess this matter for the EOI. However, the Gales report does not appear to have been considered in the assessment process,” he said.
According to the Tweed Valley Hospital site selection summary report, key issues and considerations for the Gales Holdings site included "inundation between five and seven metres in a probable maximum flood event”.
But Dr Segal said site owners were never told their land should be capable of handling a probable maximum flood event, something that occurs "every 10,000 to a million years”.
"The fact they rejected it based on something that may not happen in a million years, they're not looking at it in a logical way.”
He said the flood requirements should be more in line with the Gold Coast, which requires land be prepared for a Q500, or a one in 500-year flood.
Dr Segal said the benefits of placing the hospital on Gales Holdings land would outweigh potential flood impacts as Tweed Shire Council had already identified the land as part of a Kingscliff Business and Knowledge precinct which was designed to be above flood level.
He said the assessment of the chosen Cudgen site did not take into account permanent loss of prime agricultural land, the impact of the extra traffic on Cudgen Rd and increased parking demand.
"The community cannot have any confidence that a proper assessment of risks and benefits has been undertaken,” he said.
"In the current situation, Gales believes that the best sites should be identified and proper comparison made, and that be presented to the community.”
Dr Segal said previous approval for the land to be used as a business hub meant the site would "have great community support”.
He said Gales Holdings would be resubmitting the site for selection during the extended EOI process.
Gales Holdings is not the only developer unhappy with the selection process.
Another landowner north of the Tweed River, who chose to remain unnamed, said one site assessment mentioned "potential Aboriginal heritage impacts” despite the developer spending more than $250,000 on consultant reports that proved "there were no indigenous issues”.
Another representative for the Kings Forest project said using their site would have unlocked "$5 billion in economic benefits”.
"This is not just about investing in a hospital, it's about investing in a community and we want that investment to deliver the best possible outcome,” they said.
"It is a better site, we have zoning for a medical precinct, we have zoning for a retirement and aged care precinct. We are very happy to be able to have the process extended to point out the significant benefits of the site for the entire region.
"We are encouraged by the community support for the Kings Forest site. The positive contact from locals we have had has been overwhelming.”
A NSW Health Infrastructure spokesperson said a document explaining requirements to plan hospital infrastructure above the PMF level in NSW would be drafted and loaded onto the project website early next week.