The question of the new Tweed Valley hospital site is a complex one with emotions in the community running high over the benefits and detriments of the various sites that have been investigated. Labor is throwing its weight behind the Kings Forest site highlighting the importance of the state significant farmlands at the Kingscliff Cudgen site however, the Kings Forest site does not come without its own issues.
Labor’s shadow minister for primary industries Mick Veitch has stated that ‘There is a clear choice at the next election; a vote for Labor’s Craig Elliot is a vote to build a better, faster and on budget new hospital at Kings Forest while protecting local state significant farmland, whereas, a vote for Geoff Provest is a vote for a seven storey hospital to be imposed on Cudgen along with Gold Coast style traffic gridlock, congestion and highrise overdevelopment.’
Kings Forest was originally ruled out by NSW Health Infrastructure ‘on seven grounds, including that 70 per cent of it was flood prone, 30 per cent was adjacent to a former tip site that had the potential to release toxic gases and the entire site was in the middle of a koala corridor.’
According to the site selection report issued in July 2018 the site has only 5.8ha above the Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) that would mean ‘the site is proposed to be filled in the order of 0.5m–1.5m’ to bring it above the PMF.
Koala population and potential Wallum Frog habitat will also be impacted with advice stating that ‘this may present a serious and irreversible impact under the Biodiversity Conservation Act (State legislation).’
Reusing the current site
One suggestion that a councillor asked the health infrastructure group to consider was the reuse of the current site.
A health infrastructure spokesperson told Echonetdaily that ‘For comparison purposes, the project team also undertook a design study on a “brownfield option”, which considered acquiring land around the existing Tweed Hospital; building the new hospital; decanting services and demolishing the existing buildings; and then using the existing site for future expansion and complementary uses. This was not a shortlisted option and the comparison study reaffirmed that redevelopment around the existing hospital site was not a viable proposition.’
Some of the reasons listed in the report are the increased cost, lack of available space to expand and building critical hospital infrastructure above the PMF.