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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Old Byron hospital closer to being community-owned

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Ben Franklin, Chris Hanley, architect Harley Graham and local resident Helen Buckley
met with senior public servants to tour the Hospital site.

Byron Shire Council and the Byron community now have six months to develop a proposal for the old Byron hospital site to keep it in community hands.

The six-month moratorium on the sale of the site follows representations from the council and the Nationals parliamentary secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin to NSW Health.

The process to save the site from sale started on 23 August last year when Byron Citizen of the Year Chris Hanley organised a well-attended meeting at the Byron Community Centre to discuss the future of the hospital.

Mr Franklin announced at that meeting that he had secured a commitment from the NSW Health minister to consider a proposal from the community before proceeding with a sale of the site.

‘After my discussions with the Minister for Health and his office and a request by Council, NSW Health advised Byron Council yesterday that they would provide a six-month moratorium on the sale to allow me to work with Council and the community in developing a community proposal for the site,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘This is a terrific outcome and allows a proposal to be developed which I can then advocate for at the highest levels of government,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘We now have an opportunity to develop an excellent proposal for acquiring the site,’ he said.

On 30 November, Mr Franklin, Mr Hanley, architect Harley Graham and local resident Helen Buckley met with senior public servants to tour the hospital site.

‘It was clear to us that almost the entire site was still in excellent condition,’ Mr Hanley said.

‘We now have an opportunity as a community to try and secure a site that has significant historical and emotional connection to our town. We need to work with council, Ben and everyone else who wants to see the retention and then the reinvention of this building as an invaluable community resource,’ Mr Hanley said.

‘Finally, we will be looking for ideas and for workers to help with our submission to the State Government who, along with the Minister, need to be thanked for giving us this opportunity,’ he said.

The next six months will require serious work to develop the required proposal.

‘I have already had some initial discussions with Mayor Richardson and Byron Council will now take a coordinating role in working with the community and my office to develop a plan to keep the site in the
community’s hands,’ Mr Franklin said.

‘We still have a long way to go but today is a great step in the right direction,’ he said.

Related story: Can Byron Bay’s old hospital be saved?


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6 COMMENTS

  1. What about making it a hostel for the homeless. Offer beds at a cheap rate to get them somewhere to base themselves to get their life back on track.

  2. Go back to 1981 when the tailings from the rutile mines were used to fill the area beneath the Byron Bay Hospital. It was then radioactive sand that was used. Not only beneath the Byron Bay Hospital but many of the playing Sports fields were built up on these radio active sands across the Byron & Tweed Shires.
    The Newspapers were full of this news for months. See the Northern Star & DailyNews papers around that time.
    I can’t remember the Echo being around then or was it in its early days.
    Of course it was said the tailings were cleaned up beneath the Hospital but how effective is cleaning up grains of sand?
    No don’t turn this site into a Home for Homeless people. Clean the site up correctly.

    • I understand mineral sands contain a small percentage of naturally occurring radioactive material (thorium) but the risk of radiation exposures if any, would have been very small, a causative link could never be established and there would be no risk associated with incidental exposure.

      A much greater risk of exposure to carcinogens are the pests who insist on smoking around the Bay’s streets, parks, beach and its precincts and even some outdoor eating areas. Push the Council to implement fully its anti-smoking policy and push for further restriction and compliance in all public areas.

  3. WOULDNT IT BE GREAT IF WE COULD MAKE THE OLD HOSPITAL A REFUGE FOR THE HOMELESS IN BYRON. THERE ARE SO MANY LIVING AROUND TOWN AND ALSO IN THE SAND DUNES AT BELONGIL. WITH WINTER COMING IT WOULD BE A PERFECT TIME TO START. ALSO SHOULD MAKE IT DOG FRIENDLY TOO AS MANY PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS BECAUSE NO ONE WILL RENT TO THEM IF THEY HAVE A OG. COME ON ITS A NO BRAINER THERE ARE PLENTY OF BEDROOMS AND ALSO A KITCHEN. IT COULD BE FANTASTIC AND A GREAT COMMUNITY PROJECT. LETS HELP THE LESS FORTUNATE GET BACK ON THEIR FEET AND NOT JUST THINK OF HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY FROM IT WITH BACK PACKERS. COULD WORK IN WITH LIBERATION LARDER.

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