Hidden Impacts

NorthernBeachesHospital1Sydney’s Northern Beaches Hospital is the same size as proposed for Kingscliff Stage 1!  For many residents it has spelled the ruination of  French’s Forest.  Read their personal stories here, then try to imagine what the undisclosed planning changes could mean to you and your town.

Long Term Planning

Here is the government’s recently adopted North Coast Regional Plan for 2036. (NCRP) March 2017.  It shows the planned major growth centres for the next 20 years.

NCRP

After much public consultation the Government decided that the growth focus would be the regional city of Tweed Heads, with a Regional Health Precinct of out-of-hospital services clustered around a new much enlarged hospital, acting as the main economic driver for the city.  (see “Tweed Regional City” under “Direction 7” at the DPE website) High rise high density residential development would take advantage of the hospital and public transport  proximity and sustain the street level retail and private health services. The Tweed Council prepared government endorsed  Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans to reflect the NCRP.

Tweed Heads.

This year, despite all these plans, the Government has suddenly announced a drastic reversal.  It is completely relocating the hospital (except perhaps for some “out-of-hospital” services  (click here for official details.)) away from Tweed Heads by 2022.  The elderly or chronically ill residents who relied on the published plans and used their life savings to purchase within walking distance of the Tweed Hospital will now be expected to travel to a new hospital around 15km away to obtain attention.  Due to some government equivocation, not everyone may be fully aware of these impending un-heralded changes in their circumstances.

Because of the Class 5 status of the new Kingscliff Hospital, the Planning Minister has already appointed a consultant to facilitate the transfer of private health services such as consulting rooms, private clinics, day surgery etc to re-assemble round the new Kingscliff hospital, and new health related businesses will be encouraged to establish there as well. This exodus of hundreds of jobs and the desertion of acres of medical floorspace will of course hollow out the former health precinct and main economic driver of Tweed Heads.   The resultant impact on retail and club industry viability and jobs in Tweed Heads can be expected to be devastating.  There has been no public discussion of these adverse economic outcomes prior to or since announcements of the plan change.

Kingscliff & Cudgen

In contrast to Tweed Heads, the lesser villages of Kingscliff & Cudgen barely rated a mention in the NCRP.  The residents’ declared environment and lifestyle expectations are expressed in the recent draft Kingscliff Locality Plan (KLP) – two years in the making.

Kingscliff is renowned for its low key coastal settlement atmosphere, proximity to the
beaches, environmental qualities of Cudgen Creek and the expansive coastal foreshore.
Agricultural and farming define the edge of the Kingscliff and Cudgen settlements and when combined with the green hinterland back drop forms the unique landscape and visual character of Tweeds Green Caldera.  Natural attributes and the coastal character make Kingscliff one of the Tweed’s most popular tourism destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

The future vision for the Kingscliff locality is for a vibrant coastal town servicing
the needs of the local residents as well as the broader network of Tweed coastal
villages and tourist alike. A coastal town which offers a prosperous and healthy
community life, local economy and employment opportunities, appropriately
scaled goods and service provision, diversity of housing choice nestled within
a highly valued environmental context fringed with a working agricultural
hinterland.”

The KLP was at pains to preserve the attractive low-rise character, agricultural fringe and low key development as the key to this vision. What the government has failed to properly share is that the initial doubling of the current Tweed Hospital size and its transfer to Kingscliff (along with all the associated private health infrastructure around it) will achieve the opposite to the community vision expressed through consultation. It will instead create the City of Kingscliff/Cudgen, the Regional Health Precinct city-scape that was once intended for Tweed Heads. The community is entitled to an no-nonsense explanation of how a new hospital ultimately 20% bigger than the current Gold Coast University Hospital (see latest proposal details on DoP website) can be inserted into a town with no associated development in proximity.

On April 13, 2018, MP Geoff Provest insisted in his press release that “Development of this site will not fragment the Cudgen Plateau, and its size allows for future hospital expansion and health and education developments without encroaching on surrounding farmland.” This implies that the Hospital Precinct development will always be totally confined to the currently selected site.  Mr. Provest must have been badly misinformed, as his statement is in clear conflict with the definition of a Regional Health Precinct in the NC Regional Plan.

Despite our local MP’s bland assurances, the Minister for Planning the Hon. Anthony Roberts has recently announced that he has already appointed a specialist consultant to facilitate the creation of a Regional Health Precinct around the new hospital site.  (click here to read). Incredibly, he is still asking us to believe that the hospital site will always remain an isolated concrete tower in the middle of a potato field.  But as predicted above, he has now started referring to Kingscliff as the “Tweed Regional City”.

It can be seen from the map and table below, that not only has the likely impact of committed development been seriously under-stated, the adjacent land impact of co-located private infrastructure continues to be concealed from the public.

Kcliff infrastructure table

The government is expected to continue to  attempt to disguise whatever drastic future changes are planned by lodging its Concept Development Application in stages. The first will be one just for Site Preparation, where the whole project becomes fully committed but  the social, economic and environmental impacts of the completed works are barely declared to the public, if at all. The next DA with full disclosure is now not expected until mid 2019 – long after all work is locked in.

These two communities are entitled be made aware of the full implications of the long term dramatic changes to the lifestyle and amenity they presently enjoy. They should be allowed to choose or reject the changed vision before an irreversible commitment is made.

HOSPITAL_PRECINCT_rev2

Possible Ultimate Land Use Plan to Meet Full “Health Precinct” requirements when 900 bed capacity reached. (20% larger than GC University Hospital today.)