Byron Shire Council is set to officially purchase the old Mullumbimby Hospital site from NSW Health for $1.
But there is a sting in the tail of the state government’s gift: remediation works, including the removal of asbestos, will cost Council around $3 million.
Chair of the Mullumbimby Hospital Site Project Reference Group, Cr Jeanette Martin, said the potential for the site was ‘significant’ and she hoped it would create ‘a range of benefits and collective wellbeing for the whole community’.
‘Our community has had a strong sense of ownership of the site since the original hospital opened in 1969,’ she said.
The 21-member group was set up mid last year to advise Council on the best outcome for the site.
‘We know it’s a valuable site – some ideas for future uses include affordable housing, child care, commercial use, community facilities, education, environmental facilities, mixed-use development, recreation and residential care,’ Cr Martin said.
But she admitted, ‘we know the site is not without its challenges, including a well-documented history of asbestos’.
Byron Council says it is now appointing ‘one of Australia’s leading remediation experts’ to clean up the site and remove the asbestos to EPA requirements at an expected price tag of more than $3 million.
Cr Martin said that ‘given the costs of remediation it is important that future generations are not burdened with the expense which is why we will be looking to generate a return from some of the site’.
‘The safety of our community is the most important consideration and there will be extensive consultation with nearby residents, community organisations and stakeholders about the process,’ she said.
‘The health and wellbeing of the community will not be compromised during the clean-up of the Mullumbimby Hospital site,’ she said.
The remediation of the site is expected to take some six months and could start as early as October.
A comprehensive community engagement process will begin shortly.
The Mullumbimby Hospital was closed in May 2016 when the new Byron Central Hospital opened and the NSW Government announced in mid-2017 that it would sell the site to the Byron Shire Council for $1.