Monday 25 July 2016
Since the opening of the new South East Regional Hospital on the Tathra road, Bega Valley Shire Council has been working with the previous owners, NSW Health, in considering the best future community use for the former hospital site on McKee Drive, Bega.
That planning and discussions started in April 2015, and now been formalised with a Heads of Agreement between Council and the NSW Government via Health Infrastructure.
Health Infrastructure Chief Executive Sam Sangster said Health Infrastructure had worked collaboratively in its negotiations with Council to ensure optimal community benefit from the sale.
“In addition to the regional benefits from the development of the new South East Regional Hospital, the community will benefit from repurposing the site to deliver a community legacy with education and employment opportunities as a goal”, Mr Sangster said.
“Health Infrastructure has put significant effort into considering the best options available and negotiating the future use of the site for public benefit and we are delighted that Bega Valley Shire Council has persisted in its vision for its future use,” he said.
Council and Health Infrastructure have worked together to realise full potential of this prime site and this formal agreement now allows that vison to advance.
“One of the pillars in a strong regional economy is education,” Council’s General Manager, Leanne Barnes said.
“The vision for the hospital site is an education hub that services the community for south east NSW.
“One site that pulls together a range of different operators, catering for people at all stages of life,” Ms Barnes said.
The local education sector has been consulted during these early stages, and has played an encouraging and positive role.
A significant body of work is still to come that will tighten up Council’s vision.
“Council is working to make this a commercial reality that is not a future burden on ratepayers,” Ms Barnes said.
The 3.1 hectare block and its buildings, present a number of challenges that Council and Health Infrastructure are working together to overcome. There is some demolition and remediation work that needs to take place, before buildings can be developed, repurposed or tenanted.
“This next phase of work will take the discussion and planning further, and clarify the costs involved,” Ms Barnes said.
The Heads of Agreement with Health Infrastructure, is for Council to purchase the site for $850,000 as is, if tenancies can be secured and feasibility requirements met.
The hospital site has not yet been sold to Council, and the agreement in place is non-binding.
“The scale and scope of this is complex, we are looking to engage a range of organisations, covering a variety of uses in setting this up to succeed for the long term” Ms Barnes said.
“For this to move beyond our current thinking and planning, we need to demonstrate to ourselves and the community that Council ownership of this site is sustainable and meets a need.”
Further community updates will follow as the process unfolds.