Three alternative sites shortlisted for new Tweed Hospital
THREE alternative sites identified by the community have been shortlisted for the new Tweed Valley Hospital.
At a community meeting hosted by the Tweed Daily News on Monday night, Health Infrastructure Senior Project Director Peter Lawless confirmed three sites, including Kings Forest, Chinderah and Tweed Coast Rd, had been identified.
More than 200 concerned community members turned out to the meeting to have their questions answered on the new hospital by a panel of experts.
The panel included former Tweed Hospital Medical Staff Council chair Dr Ian McPhee, Tweed Hospital Medical Staff Council co-chair Dr Mike Lindley Jones, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Health Infrastructure Senior Project Director Peter Lawless and Tweed MP Geoff Provest.
Mr Lawless said 180 submissions were put forward during the extended expression of interest phase, which closed on June 14, resulting in 25 alternative sites put forward.
Of those sites, only 13 were new, which were then narrowed down to three.
"We've come up with an initial shortlist of three sites for investigation, of the three shortlisted there is one at Chinderah, one at Kings Forest and one on Tweed Coast Rd," Mr Lawless said.
"Those are the three sites identified through this. That assessment may change and is ongoing."
Mr Lawless said investigation work on those sites would begin this week and Health Infrastructure was already talking to the landowners.
However, he said the original site at Cudgen was still very much a possibility, and the three new sites would be compared to that.
Mr Lawless said Health Infrastructure had twice met with the Council Community Reference Group before shortlisting the three alternative sites, with three councillors urging the current Tweed Hospital be extended instead.
He said Health Infrastructure had investigated the possibility of building onto the existing hospital site but it was ruled out.
Mr Hazzard, who made a flying visit to Tweed on the eve of the State Budget, said no decision had yet been made on the future use of the current Tweed Hospital, indicating some health services may be needed in the Tweed Heads area.
"It may be that some facilities and services are kept at the Tweed Hospital," he said.
However, he said such a decision was years down the line.
Residents raised concerns about the impact of the hospital at Cudgen and Kingscliff, including on surrounding farms, car parking, tourism, over-development and height limits.
Mr Hazzard said he wanted to see the hospital completed by 2022, but could not say when the selected site would be announced.
"We have to get it underway before the end of the year, it could be a couple of weeks, it could be a month," he said. "The money is there, we need to get on with it."