Further to a recent decision by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) for a $8m private medical centre on the congested Ewingsdale Road, a medical professional has told The Echo the facility is not needed and was not requested by anyone within the local medical fraternity.
The comments by the local doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous, highlight how the decision may well have been made without community support or need.
With almost a 100 per cent approval rate, the JRPP is an unelected panel that decides on large-scale developments instead of elected councils, and will shortly consider the contentious West Byron greenfield development.
According to comments in their determination (available online), the JRPP stated that the facility was needed, yet that claim was unsupported with any evidence.
The doctor said, ‘The medical centre proposal is being seen by many in the local medical community as a cynical exercise to increase the value of a piece of land adjoining a public hospital site – no more.’
‘The proposed services are not essential, and they make no sense in that there is no market for them. The services have not been requested by any local medical entity.
‘The proposed services seek to replicate the already available and underused medical and pharmacy services available within a very short distance (ie West Byron), as well as the underused local medical centres in Byron and Bangalow, all within 5–10 minutes’ drive. Further, there are already existing specialist suites in Byron and Bangalow, and excellent day-surgery facilities within 30 mins (Lismore and Tweed).
‘The restricted hours suggested by the developer (ie closed during morning and afternoon peak/school hours) underlines the cynical nature of this proposal, as no medical business model can ever operate that way. No doctor would work in such a centre. It simply makes no financial sense.
‘The developers are property speculators from Melbourne and their targeting of that block of land represents a low point for the residents of Ewingsdale, whose transport difficulties will be greatly compounded, as will the transport problems generally on that already busy end of Ewingsdale Road.
‘In short, a cynical use of the ‘medical centre’ play by a developer wanting to up-value his block, and get around Council. It’s a real “up-yours” to the Ewingsdale residents and the local medical and pharmacy businesses.’