BY MEL SOMERVILLE
The $720 million Randwick Health and Education Precinct expansion linking Prince of Wales hospital with UNSW announced in the recent Budget, came totally out of the blue for the Randwick Councillors.
The new Acute Services Building will see the demolition of 88 properties. 26 are owned by UNSW, with the remaining are a combination of private residences and a small number of businesses in Botany Street, Eurimbla Avenue and Magill Street.
Although Randwick Council has made no formal response as yet, the Randwick Greens councillors have. The Greens councillors are concerned about the forced acquisition of the properties and the effect on the residents, and want to see the properties acquired long term as they become available on the open market, as UNSW has already done with 26 of the properties concerned.
But the local precinct committee is wanting a backtrack on the decision to rezone and build high-rise residential properties at the Inglis/Newmarket stables site. They want the new emergency department, extra beds, new operating theatres, and expanded rehabilitation and ambulatory care facilities built there instead.
Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson will be putting a motion to the next Council meeting, seeking to implement a policy that will recognise the benefit to local residents and the local economy in supporting an expansion of the local hospitals and UNSW, but not via the recently announced program of forcibly acquiring private properties.
“This will cause community dislocation, stress and financial hardship to effected residents. My immediate concern would be for the financial well-being for the present property owners, and I would like to see the local Greens investigate that particular perspective,” Cr Matson said.
“We advocate that any expansion for the hospitals and UNSW be based on UNSW’s previous long-term expansion program of acquiring adjacent private properties, only when they become available on the open market with no compulsory acquisition,” concluded Cr Matson.
But Andrew Roydhouse from the Kingsford South Precinct Committee believes the nearby Inglis/Newmarket stables site at Barker Street should have been used for the hospital expansion instead.
“We have the compulsory acquisition of people’s homes versus the site that is five hectares, it’s already going to be vacated and would cause no public consternation. In fact, the public was calling for it not to be turned into high-density development to create even greater gridlock in Randwick, and prior to the change in State Government, three government departments had recommended against the approval,” said Mr Roydhouse.
The Inglis/Newmarket site is adjacent to existing State Public lands; Randwick Boys High, Randwick Girls High and Rainbow Street Public School. It is on the primary access route to the hospital, whereas this new site is effectively being built on a cul-de-sac, with now only one lane up High Street. Emergency service vehicles cannot come down High street, as it has been blocked off to make way for light rail.
“The Inglis site is zoned for high density, proposed building to start in 2019 with around 900 units, thousands of square metres of commercial and retail space, and only half the car parking required by State and Local Council regulations. Prior to the State election I organised a petition and got over 12,500 to oppose the development,” said Mr Roydhouse.
“The decision to expand the hospital campus isn’t something that was just made overnight. This is something that has been planned for some years,” he said.
“Why didn’t the residents have knowledge of this? Some properties have only recently changed hands.”
The Barker and Avoca Street intersection, which would provide the primary access for accident and emergency of the hospital, is in a state of gridlock and cannot accommodate the thousands of additional vehicle movements per day should the proposed high-rise development go ahead.
Liberal local member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith stated the acquisition process is already underway.
“It is being conducted in line with the reforms to improve the property acquisition process announced in October 2016 by the NSW Government in response to the Russell Review. From a project perspective, the affected properties will be required in the second half of next year. Health Infrastructure is committed to working closely with the affected residents and owners throughout the process,” he said.