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Byron Shire
August 20, 2022

Free parking and protected farmland ‘concerns’ as government trumpets height of new Tweed Valley Hospital

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Tweed Valley Hospital construction. Photo supplied

The NSW State government is trumpeting the height of the controversial new Tweed Valey Hospital but the community remains concerned over promises of free parking, protection of State Significant Farmland (SSF) and roads and traffic. 

‘The new seven-storey $723.3 million Tweed Valley Hospital development has reached a major milestone, hitting its highest point of construction,’ says the state government in a recent press release. 

‘Today’s “topping out” ceremony is a significant milestone for this incredible new health facility which will double capacity of the existing hospital to better meet the current and future healthcare needs of this community which has grown by 6,000 people since this project was first announced,’ Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said.

Tweed Valley Hospital construction. Photo supplied

State Significant Farmland

However, there are still concerns over the long-term impacts on the local community and the current threat to protected SSF. 

Peter Newton, President of the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) points out that the location of the hospital site on SSF zoned farmland remains a concern. 

‘The Association has always recognised and supported the provision of a new hospital as much needed for the Shire and surrounds. We are grateful for this significant investment in health infrastructure by the State government,’ he told The Echo. 

‘The location of such a major piece of infrastructure (basically the equivalent of a small town) above Kingscliff itself, on legislatively protected, prime agricultural land in a limited ‘footprint’, was always the issue for our members and community, not the hospital.

‘Our major focus remains protection of remaining state significant farmland and mitigating the impact of the hospital on the infrastructure of our beautiful part of the world, particularly roads, traffic and parking. 

An artists impression of the new Cudgen Connection

Death by a thousand dollar signs

Ten days before the Tweed Valley Hospital site was re-zoned for the hospital to be built there developer Alan Larkin bought the adjoining site for more than $3.5m over its rural value. That site is zoned as SSF and is therefore not supposed to be developed, this was confirmed by local MP Geof Provest in 2019 when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herlad. However, in February 2022 a private consortium proposed to build ‘Cudgen Connection’ a ‘$250m health and education development on farmland next to the new Tweed Valley Hospital in Cudgen’. 

Proposed site for the $250m health and education development ‘Cudgen Connection’ on State Significant Farmland. Photo Jeff Dawson

Local MP Geoff Provest was quick to confirm that ‘We committed to protect the remaining Cudgen farmland and that is what we are doing’. However, since that time the developers have argued that the zoning as SSF is ‘incorrect’ and have been building a case to rezoned the site for development. 

‘We recognise and welcome that our State Member, Mr Provest continues to state categorically that there will be no further development of the State Significant Farmland at Cudgen. This support is particularly important to our community, given the current attempt by the so-called ‘Cudgen Connection’ to develop their parcel of SSF adjoining the new hospital,’ said KRPA President Mr Newton. 

‘We have received welcome advice from the Minister for Agriculture and Western Sydney, Dugald Saunders, who is seeking a review of protected agricultural land in order to strengthen the protections.  The Association still waits on a response from the Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, who to this point, has remained concerningly silent on this matter.’

Plan of the new Tweed Valley Hospital. Source NSW Health Infrastructure

Free parking a maybe

A new $50 million multi-storey car park will also be delivered as part of the project, providing staff, patients and visitors with access to over 1,200 car park spaces at the new hospital campus when complete. 

Mr Provest historically stated that parking at the new TVH would be free. 

‘Promises regarding the provision of free parking and also the ongoing operation of the current Tweed Hospital are still to be met and we note the Deputy Premier, Paul Toole, makes no mention of these in his statement. The community expects and deserves no less than to have these election commitments honoured,’ said Mr Newton. 

Speaking to the office of the Minister for Regional Health, Bronnie Taylor, a spokesperson told The Echo that ‘a range of offers are being considered at the moment’ in relation to car parking at the new TVH. 

They would not answer the question ‘is paid parking being considered?’ However, it is understood that there is a consideration of adopting fees in accordance with the current parking fee schedule at Lismore Base Hospital carpark, though all options remain on the table. 

Tweed MP Geoff Provest. Photo pronto.com

Provest stands firm

MP Provest has come out and confirmed to the communityhis election promise f=of free parking at the new TVH. 

It was a commitment made at the last election that carparking would be free and I have not moved from that commitment. At the time it was also publicly stated by the then Deputy Premier John Barilaro,’ he told The Echo.

‘In addition to the world-class health facility, construction for the hospital has provided a boost to the local economy, supporting hundreds of jobs since work began.

‘As the project moves into the internal fit-out stage, work is ramping up with around 400 people on-site each day. Importantly, many of the workers contributing to this project are from the local community,’ Mr Provest said.

According to the health department, the hospital will include: More than 400 overnight and day-only beds to address future demand for health services; Expanded emergency department with 42 treatment spaces; Expanded outpatient services with more clinics; 12 operating theatres, an increase of five from the existing Tweed Hospital;  New interventional cardiology service;  New radiotherapy service as part of integrated cancer care, including a PET-CT suite; Outdoor green spaces; Campus roads and car park.


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Call me a cynic…but there will be “Charged Parking” regardless of what the local political member states…when push “comes to shove” and the $$$$$ are just begging to be made…maybe not immediately..the Lib state government do not want to make the local member look bad, plus they have a bit on their plate at present….but paid parking at Tweed Hospital…it’s a forgone conclusion..
    The 12 theatres…nice..where is NSW Health going to get the medical staff to run them?
    Those 400 beds are nice…
    I give it 12 to 18 months and 400 beds will not be enough…Why?..this hospital will have a catchment area 3 to 4 times the area of tweed heads…so there will be a in – care needs for mental health patients, drug dependancy, chronic aged and disability care, intra district and interstate state patients.. and yes..even some those pandemic patients as well. So those 400 beds for the Tweed area…I think that statement is “Guilding the Lilly a bit”
    The Lismore Base has had a refurbishment completed and now even after all this, 15 months later…there are times when the Lismore Base Hospital is completely FULL and no beds are available, not even for an overnight “observation”.
    It is something that NSW Health are be a bit loath to discuss at times…then again, there will be the new Tweed Hospital 80k’s up the road when things get a bit tight at Lismore Base and for that matter..Ballina, Byron and Murwillumbah.
    What are friends for.

    • The Coalition had been promising to address the shortage of beds at the Tweed Hospital for years. The Tweed Hospital Medical Staff Council said that, in the lead up to the 2019 election, they were finally promised a 450 bed hospital and are now getting a 350 bed hospital (“only approx 110 more beds than the current hospital which means it will be full within a year”). So 50 of those beds must be day beds probably on high rotation (get them in, get them out). They said this would only be fit for purpose for only 3 to 5 years. This was only ever about getting the Cudgen Plateau State Significant Farmland rezoned for development. The year before the site was announced, full and detailed plans were still being worked on to upgrade the current Tweed Hospital and then out of the blue, under Brad Hazzard, all that changed.

  2. Well, after more than a decade of the LNP doing nothing for health in the Tweed, just another year to go until they have actually done the job they are so highly payed to do and we have some massively overdue health facilities built. They have built a building, where it should never have been built, simply to rezone for land bankers. “Don’t kid yourselves, that is all that has really happened, they have been attempting to do these rezonings for over 30 years.
    But just what will be installed in this building? Private/public, health with paid parking? Like other hospitals in NSW that remain under utilised and empty free of vital equipment with massive parking fees.
    “The LNP are saying trust us for another 4 years”? As we see the 3rd Liberal Premier resign the latest on the ropes, the Liberal and National party leaders forced to resign for corruption, now the deputy Liberal leader and yet another minister for abusive behaviour. Trust these lot, you’ve got to be kidding. Time to rid NSW of the LNP as the rest of Australia has done! Remember we are only seeing whats going on because the LNP don’t control the upper house, otherwise it would be open slather on corrupt conduct as per LNP usual.
    After the NSW State election we will find out just what a mess NSW is in, like we have found the complete disaster the Morrison LNP coalition has left to be cleaned up!

  3. How does this ‘double capacity’ when there will be no more beds than the current Tweed Hospital?
    Still only 8 bed cardiac unit, according to current information. Queensland hospitals will have to take the brunt of NSW Government lack of investment in medical infrastructure yet again.

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