Farmers back developer
THE new Tweed Valley Hospital site should be in Kings Forest, according to Cudgen farmers and some Kingscliff community members.
Developer Leda Holdings, who are planning to develop a massive 4500-home residential estate in Kings Forest, put forward a "comprehensive expression of interest” to the NSW Government for the proposed Tweed Valley Hospital site but were rejected due to issues such as no existing infrastructure, potential Aboriginal heritage impacts and flooding.
But Cudgen farmers have thrown their support behind the development which would "allow the community to move into a hospital”, rather than dropping the hospital into the middle of farmland.
Cudgen farmer Hayley Paddon, who is leading the charge against the hospital being on Cudgen's State Significant Farmland, says the Kings Forest Project would "do a lot for our community”.
"At Kings Forest they're going to make a whole township down there, it's not just a hospital they're offering, they could do a whole medical precinct, that's what our community needs,” she said.
"I think the Kings Forest site has been overlooked, I believe they have hundreds of hectares above the PMF (Probable Maximum Food scenario), why did that get overlooked? Kings Forest should have been number one and that's why there is so much shock in our community.”
Tweed Shire Councillor Ron Cooper has also shown support for the Kings Forest project, which he says would lead to "years of construction jobs”.
"Kings Forest is the best option for the hospital and it is the best option for preserving the farmlands,” he said. "The hospital would also trigger the development of that large area of 10,000 people. What will come with that is a commercial, retail and medical town centre on the Tweed Coast that is much more commercially oriented and medically oriented.”
But Save Our Hospital Site spokesperson Penny Hockings feared building the hospital at Kings Forest would lead to a poorer quality hospital.
Ms Hockings said $534 million had been allocated to the new hospital and was concerned services at the facility would be reduced if the government was forced to increase its spend on basic infrastructure which already exists at the proposed Cudgen site.
"The more money spent on infrastructure on a site, the less we're going to get as a hospital,” she said.
"Kings Forest is an area with massive flood risks and a lack of infrastructure and it's already been ruled out by the selection process.
"They're (Cudgen farmers) happy to push it completely out of their backyard and end up with a lesser quality hospital, I don't get it.” NSW Health Infrastructure was approached for comment.