SE­LEC­TION SLAM

De­vel­op­ers ques­tion new hos­pi­tal site se­lec­tion process:

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Koenig rick.koenig@tweed­dai­lynews.com.au

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 $534 mil­lion 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

❝They’re not look­ing at it in a log­i­cal way. — Dr Steven Se­gal

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 mod­elled to be filled 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.”

NSW Health In­fra­struc­ture has been ap­proached for com­ment.

PHOTO: NSW HEALTH IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE SITE SUM­MARY RE­PORT

SITE DE­BATE: The land Gales Hold­ing put for­ward for the new Tweed Val­ley Hos­pi­tal site is in­di­cated in the yel­low F2 oval.

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