Whatever its faults the new Byron Central Hospital is a fait accompli and Byron Shire needs to plan carefully to live with it. While councillors appear to be in ‘uncharted waters’ regarding a major development including seniors’ housing close to the hospital and residents’ opinions seem to be half-hearted and mixed, perhaps both might consider other situations where cottage hospitals have been replaced by a district facility.
Four years ago I moved into an attractive new seniors’ development a long stone’s throw from Lismore Base Hospital. Our position close to medical services was considered to be an advantage by fellow residents. Our outlook was onto a few doctors’ cottages and some green space. The last thing we considered at the time was growth, expansion and parking.
Now that the new wing of the Base Hospital (ten storeys above ground topped by a helipad) looms over us, our street has been developed for paid and time-limited parking and the state planning authority has built a five-storey car park for hospital staff and visitors across the street from our homes. We did manage to save a piece of green space at the cost of street-level parking.
After enduring ten months of excavation and construction noise and dust, twelve hours a day, six days a week, we can find nowhere to park, our immediate aspect is a monster car park construction with hundreds of bright lights shining into our homes from all floors twenty-four hours a day and helicopter noise to look forward to.
The costs of a roundabout and a traffic study are short-term considerations for Byron councillors and residents. Growth (a conservative estimate of 5% per year), hospital expansion and attenuate parking requirements are as assured in Byron as they are in Lismore. By the time these are needed you will be those seniors. Spare yourselves the horrors of living in the shadow of an expanding hospital and its needs. Keep the land around your new facility to accommodate that and house your seniors where they can touch the grass and see the stars.
Rhonda Ellis, Lismore