As new information comes to light, it’s becoming clear that the fight to keep the Mullumbimby hospital land retained for community use against the state government will be a hard-fought battle.
The land, thought to be gifted to the community in perpetuity generations ago, has moved from Local Health District (LHD) control after the new Byron Central Hospital became operational.
As the site was excess to their needs, it was referred to the government organisation that manages all of NSW government-owned properties and assets: Property NSW.
And while the land is owned by the NSW Health Department, the remediation and sale is being handled by NSW Properties and the Department of Public Works.
This news comes after many months of behind-the-scenes work by the Mullumbimby Hospital-Site Action Group (MHAG), who have been trying to secure the land after a public meeting was held in September last year.
Those at the meeting voted that the hospital land be transferred from NSW Minister for Health to the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing. MHAG’s vision is to see the site stay zoned ‘Special Purpose’ and be used to develop a range of aged-care facilities and services and housing options through public- and community-sector partnerships.
Cohesion is vital
Byron Shire councillor and mayoral candidate Basil Cameron is involved with MHAG and he believes that community cohesion is vital if Mullumbimby has a chance of holding on to the land.
‘I would like to see us to find a way to get all the people who are talking about the hospital site come together to find common ground and unity of purpose.’
MHAG recently held a meeting with Wayne Jones, executive director NSW Local Health, Dr Brian Pezzutti, chair of Northern NSW Local Health District Board and Tony Beashel, Operations Support co-ordinator Local Health District. They say that the Local Health District is in full agreement with the community and that tiered aged care and affordable housing is needed. Cr Cameron went on to say MHAG were told the current plan is to sell Byron Hospital site and use that equity to deal with the asbestos on the Mullumbimby site and then send it to market via the Property Group.
‘If the Property Group want to put it on the market they will want to get as much money as possible. They will come to Council and want us to rezone from special purpose to residential zoning.
‘Council will have a great say in the outcome of that rezoning. At least in that part of the process.’