Cudgen hospital site rezoned from State Significant Farmland
THE new $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital site at Cudgen has officially been rezoned from State Significant Farmland to allow for development.
NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, who flew up from Sydney yesterday, said the rezoning would help the planning department consider the hospital's development application.
The land has been rezoned from State Significant Farmland RU1, to Special Purpose Infrastructure 2, or SP2.
"This has been a combination of looking at 50 sites, none of which offered an alternative to the preferred location and I'm confident, in fact, I'm more than confident that the evidence provided by Health Infrastructure and my department demonstrates clearly the case for rezoning to take place here,” Mr Roberts said.
"While it was zoned as primary production, there is the capability for State Significant Development where we can rezone it for such things as a new hospital for the Tweed.
"The planning process we have in NSW is incredibly rigorous, it's very transparent and involves deep engagement with the community and rigorous assessment by my department, which takes in all the factors to form a decision whether or not to approve a development.”
Mr Roberts said he trusted the "experts” and the commitment by NSW Labor to build the hospital at Kings Forest was "entirely inappropriate”.
"This site here was one of 50 sites we went through and the Kings Forest site was found not to be a feasible alternative to the current site. The grounds to rejecting it and the other sites involved lack of access, flood risk, adverse impact on Aboriginal heritage, and impact on the environment.
"This is a site the doctors have been calling on for more than five years, we can have a hospital delivered here by 2023, if the opposition have their way, you won't see another hospital on another site until 2025, 2026, possibly later, and even that might be ambitious as the additional due diligence investigations would of course be required on any proposed site.”
Mr Roberts said issues surrounding koala habit and flood risk made the Cudgen site a clear winner.
"This site is on a hill, the roads are built to withstand any floods and in times of floods and disasters, access to a health care service is critical,” he said.
Mr Roberts did not rule out the hospital's development application being approved during the State Government's caretaker period, which begins tomorrow.
"In caretaker mode, the government doesn't stop, we'll have independent experts and public servants continuing the job of delivering a new hospital for the Tweed," he said.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said the announcement was "very exciting”.
"The planning process is quite arduous and long but it's going to provide more health services for the Tweed,” he said.
"There are currently two and a half thousand people suffering cancer in the Tweed, there is no public radiation, last year alone according to the Cancer Council 5000 people had to leave the Tweed to seek treatment, and in this day and age that's just unacceptable.
"We're also getting a new cath lab, we're getting a cardio unit, we're getting many things we don't have at the moment that is not just for now or the next five years, 10 years, it's a hospital for the next 50 years as our population grows.”
Department of Planning Executive Director David Gainsford said the site rezoning was "a separate process to accessing the State Significant Development”.
"We're at a point now where we've received Health Infrastructures response to submissions and we're going through the assessment report," he said.
Mr Gainsford said the assessment of the hospital's development application was "advanced” but did not want to speculate on when it could be approved.
Meanwhile, State Labor Candidate for Tweed Craig Elliot has slammed Mr Provest after a Tweed couple who owned a 5.69 hectare block adjacent to the hospital site sold their land to a Brisbane based developer.
According to RP Data, the $4 million sale of 741 Cudgen Road went through on December 14 but was not settled until February 12.
"It is now absolutely clear. The hospital at Cudgen has always been about property deals and allowing developers into Kingscliff," Mr Elliot said.
"The Nationals have been caught out."
But Mr Provest told the Tweed Daily News he was not aware of the sale until he was approached by the media.
"Until I was approached I did not know that land was for sale or purchased or anything like that,” Mr Provest said.
"If it's State Significant Farmland and sold to a developer, it still stays State Significant Farmland, they won't be able to do anything, there are planning processes in place in relation to that.”