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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Hospital precinct planning session

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The Northern NSW Local Health District and Lismore City Council have joined forces for a Hospital Precinct Charrette to look at the nuts and bolts of managing health services around the Base Hospital.

For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia describes a charrette as ‘collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem’.

Instead of responding to planning issues in a piecemeal fashion, the council says the the Health Precinct Charrette will define a broad plan for future development near the hospital.

The three-day Health Precinct Charrette, which starts today, will include feedback from a focus group of randomly selected local residents and conclude with a public meeting on draft outcomes.

Chris Crawford, chief executive NNSWLHD, said it would pave the way for the first phase of the proposed $380 million Stage 3 upgrade of Lismore Base Hospital and provide certainty for other health services that wish to co-locate.

‘We’re proposing to do quite a lot of development over the next one to 10 years and we feel it will make it easier for planning and implementation if we discuss issues now,’ Chris Crawford said.

‘In that timeframe we will see at least the $80 million first phase of Lismore Base Hospital’s Stage 3 development occur, the centrepiece of which is a new, larger and more functional emergency department. Later phases will include new operating theatres, additional ward space and a helipad on top of the building.’

Mr Crawford said the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health opposite the Base Hospital also has plans to expand with the development of a simulation centre to train young and upskill existing health professionals.

‘As this is happening, we have other health professionals deciding to co-locate so they can be closer to interactions with the main health services, so the Charrette will help us streamline planning and approvals for them as well,’ Mr Crawford said.

Mr Crawford flagged that a clear regulatory framework would be helpful in attracting further investment from government and would demonstrate that Lismore City Council recognises the value of having a good health system in place to service Lismore as a key regional centre.

‘I’m very excited… working together gives recognition to the fact health is the biggest employer in the Lismore City boundaries – it is one of the most important service providers in Lismore,’ Mr Crawford said.

‘The health service works closely with the education sector, which is the second largest employer in the city.’

Council’s executive director sustainable development Brent McAlister said the charrette demonstrated forward planning and collaboration at its best.

‘The purpose is to develop a joint draft long-term master plan incorporating the long-term Base Hospital expansion plans and considering the residential precinct around it for greater housing diversity and density,’ Mr McAlister said.

‘The residential part is triggered out of Council’s recently adopted Housing Strategy where we are actively looking for areas close to the CBD to intensify for greater housing choice. Both the hospital expansion and the residential part have joint issues around parking, traffic etcetera, hence the need for a joint workshop.’

The Hospital Precinct Charrette is being held at the Council Chambers in Goonellabah from today until Friday, concluding with a public meeting at 6.30pm.

A report on the draft outcomes will be made available on Council’s website in December. This will feed into the Growth Management Strategy, which will guide development throughout the Lismore Local Government Area over the next 25 years.

A discussion paper on the Growth Management Strategy will be released in the first half of next year and will be placed on public exhibition for community comment.

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