A significant decision about the future of the old Byron Hospital site will be made this week, with Byron Council choosing an organisation to manage the new community hub that will be created there.
Following the sale of the site to Council for $1 in late 2018, progress on the repurposing project has been somewhat haphazard.
Council initially decided to bypass a conventional tender process for the management of the site, instead electing to grant a long-term lease to the community committee that initiated the project, without seeking any other expressions of interest.
But when this directly negotiated lease was sent to the Office of Local Government (OLG), the Council was told that it amounted to a public-private partnership, and required a series of probity checks and processes.
Council hastily retreated to the well-worn tender path in the hope that this would more rapidly achieve the goal of turning the site into a community hub hosting a mix of health, education and other community-related services.
This week, councillors will vote on which organisation is to have responsibility for managing the hub.
Tenders have been received from the Byron Community Centre and Social Futures.
The latter is a large organisation that runs scores of programs across regional NSW, including managing the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Once Council awards the tender, relevant project officers will work with the successful tenderer to plan the management and occupation of the former hospital, which is not due to occur until early 2023.
The proposed redevelopment will be financed via an internal loan – subject to Ministerial approval – from Council’s water fund.