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.
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