The new Tweed Valley Hospital that is to be located at the controversial Cudgen site near Kingscliff has now received the green light from the NSW government for the facilities concept plans.
The selection of the site at Kingscliff split the local community and was opposed by the Tweed Shire Council on the grounds that it not only changed the character of the seaside town but was also placed on State Significant Farmland (SSF).
Historically there have been proposals for over 200 housing lots, a large supermarket and a fire station, a police station and seniors housing on SSF at Cudgen that were fought off by locals. However, the state Liberal/National government has seen fit to override the need to preserve farmland and determined that the site should be used as the site for the new Tweed Valley Hospital.
A key concern for residents is that this will open up the rest of the area for future development. However, in early 2019 local member for Tweed Geoff Provest told the Sydney Morning Herald that ‘the hospital will not open the floodgates to further development.’
Fears of development expansion
The increasing population and need for either expansion of the current Tweed Hospital or a new hospital had never been in dispute. But opponents said that the original plan had been to expand the hospital at its current site and that there were better options for a Greenfield’s site in the region than SSF.
Further concerns have been raised by locals when a suggestion was made at the Kingscliff Residents and Ratepayers Association meeting on June 3 that the new Kingscliff Fire and Rescue station could be located at the new Tweed Valley Hospital site.
Some residents were extremely concerned that this would require the state to purchase more SSF in the area.
‘The sites next to and diagonally opposite the new Tweed Valley Hospital site have been purchased by developers,’ said one local couple who also wrote a letter detailing their concerns following the meeting to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
‘If either of those sites are sold for further development it would that take this area of SSF below the 500 hectares required for SSF recognition.
‘The inclusion of the Fire and Rescue/Emergency Services hub as part of the proposed hospital development, on a site that is already shrinking due to buffer zones and other planning requirements, leads us to believe that further State Significant Farmland is under threat… in direct contrast to the NSW government’s assurances and our local state member’s “iron clad guarantee” that no further development would occur on SSF.’
Site big enough
A spokesperson for Health Infrastructure NSW, who are in charge of the new Tweed Valley Hospital development, responded to enquiries from Echonetdaily stating, ‘The large size of the Tweed Valley Hospital site provides a range of future opportunities for co-locating complementary services, in addition to significant expansion and redevelopment of the Hospital, without the need for additional land.
‘Future planning for any developments on the site will include community consultation and public exhibition of documentation explaining and providing details of each particular proposal.’