SITE DE­FENDED

NSW In­fras­truc­ture stands by its se­lec­tion of hos­pi­tal po­si­tion:

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Nikki Todd nikki.todd@tweed­dai­lynews.com.au

NSW Health In­fras­truc­ture has de­fended its de­ci­sion to se­lect prime agri­cul­tural land at Cud­gen as the site for its $534 mil­lion new Tweed Val­ley Hos­pi­tal.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has re­leased de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the pro­cesses be­hind its se­lec­tion of the new site – which is ear­marked for a 22ha lot on Cud­gen Road across the road from North Coast TAFE – cur­rently home to a sweet potato crop and 4ha of rain­for­est.

The ex­pla­na­tion fol­lows an out­cry from res­i­dents in the wake of the April 4 an­nounce­ment of the site, with a com­mu­nity meet­ing or­gan­ised by con­cerned farm­ers last week at­tract­ing more than 200 peo­ple.

In a state­ment is­sued to the Tweed Daily News ,a Health In­fras­truc­ture spokesper­son said while they ac­knowl­edged around 16ha of land mapped as State Sig­nif­i­cant Farm­land (SSF) had been re­quired, this rep­re­sented just 0.13 per cent of the to­tal SSF mapped for the NSW Far North Coast.

“All sites were as­sessed for their suit­abil­ity against a com­pre­hen­sive suite of cri­te­ria; in­formed by due dili­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der­taken by in­de­pen­dent ex­perts, and over­seen by an in­de­pen­dent pro­bity ad­vi­sor in ac­cor­dance with ro­bust NSW Gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments,” the spokesper­son said.

“The eval­u­a­tion process was de­signed to en­sure that any im­pacts aris­ing from the se­lec­tion of a par­tic­u­lar site were con­sid­ered against the broader com­mu­nity ben­e­fits brought about from sit­u­at­ing the new hos­pi­tal in that lo­ca­tion.”

The spokesper­son said the land in ques­tion sits on the far north­east­ern tip of the agri­cul­tural land – on the ur­ban side of Cud­gen Road – with fu­ture res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments planned to the north.

It said sev­eral sites were in­ves­ti­gated as part of the Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est process, in­clud­ing a num­ber at Tweed Heads West, with de­tails on these to be re­leased in com­ing weeks.

Cri­te­ria gov­ern­ing their de­ci­sion in­cluded lo­ca­tion, ac­cess and traf­fic, ur­ban con­text, built forms and land­scap­ing, en­vi­ron­ment, her­itage and cul­ture, time, cost and value.

The depart­ment said it re­mained in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the landowner, who put for­ward the site in re­sponse to the EOI, with their pref­er­ence to reach a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment in par­al­lel with pro­gress­ing rel­e­vant plan­ning ap­provals.

Tweed MP Ge­off Provest – who only found out about the ex­act lo­ca­tion the day be­fore the an­nounce­ment – stood by the de­ci­sion.

“The last thing I want to do is to go down the route of the po­lice sta­tion – that took seven long years, with cost blowouts and things like that,” he said.

Go to our web­site for the depart­ment’s full re­sponse.

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