Site selection report for Tweed Valley Hospital revealed
HEALTH Infrastructure has released details on why it rejected three alternative sites in favour of Cudgen for the new $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital.
Last month, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the new hospital site would remain at the original 23ha site on the Cudgen Plateau, opposite Kingscliff TAFE on Cudgen Rd, following a six-week extended Expression of Interest (EOI) phase and community consultation period which saw three alternative sites short-listed.
The three sites included Chinderah, Kings Forest and Tweed Coast Rd.
According to the new site selection summary report, the Chinderah site received "a good level of community support" and was recognised for its proximity to the M1.
However issues surrounding flood levels and additional infrastructure costs would "significantly impact on the budget available to build clinical space."
"The resulting impact on clinical services would be unacceptable and this option was therefore discounted," the report reads.
The report says Kings Forest, owned by mega-developer Leda Holdings and backed by State Labor, received strong support both for and against the site.
It says the development of the Kings Forest precinct would "respond well as a site for the new hospital", but said planning delays and market forces would "ultimately dictate the pace of development".
"State and Commonwealth approvals are required to develop Kings Forest, specifically in relation to the protection of Koala habitat," the report reads.
"The risk of the hospital being delayed through complex multilevel approvals or becoming an isolated development for an extended period due to approvals and/or the uncertainty of the housing market were key considerations in the merit and risk review of this site."
The third alternative site on Tweed Coast Rd, owned by farmer Alan McIntosh who famously offered to donate his land to end the stoush between residents and council over the proposed Cudgen site, was considered due to its "good street frontage to a major road" and its ease of access to the Tweed/Byron community.
But the site was rejected due to its risk of "fragmenting the main agricultural area of the Cudgen Plateau and placing additional development pressure on farming activities."
The option to upgrade the existing Tweed hospital on a Brownfield site, which was backed by Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne, was not considered by Health Infrastructure and rejected due to inadequate space, flooding issues and the need to build "critical hospital infrastructure" above the Possible Maximum Flood level.
"The additional costs involved with the overall solution for this site would significantly impact on the budget available to build clinical space," the report reads.
"The resulting impact on clinical services would be unacceptable."
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has previously said the current Tweed Hospital would likely "retain some services" when the new hospital opens in four years' time, while other hospitals in Murwillumbah and Byron Bay would become part of a referral network.
The new report says the selected Cudgen site was "the best site for a major new referral hospital serving the Tweed‐Byron region."
"(The site is) capable of achieving the best possible outcomes for patients, consumers and clinicians with regard to hospital design, amenity and future expansion."
"The NSW Government decision confirming the proposed site for the new Tweed Valley Hospital on Cudgen Road, opposite Kingscliff TAFE, enables the site acquisition process and development of detailed planning approval submissions to continue," the report reads.