RE: Proposed medical centre for CBD will have to breach height limits.
It's safe to say that we all want improved medical facilities in Bathurst. What is in doubt is how best to see them realised.
A private consortium has designed a building which they know is in contravention of building regulations.
They insist that it has to be built in the CBD to be viable while at the same time operating a very similar facility far from the CBD of Orange.
RECENT LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Discussions have been held behind closed doors with council; reports were produced but not made publicly available.
I have written to both council and Zauner Constructions requesting more detailed information. So far I have not received a reply from either organisation.
Other sites were supposed to have been considered but we don't know which ones, and why they were considered to be unsuitable.
Why didn't the consortium approach the Bathurst community and say: "We think a new hospital for Bathurst would be a good idea. These are the sites we think are suitable. We would welcome your ideas."
We know that the devil is in the detail. A small, select group is privy to the detail, but the rest of us are in the dark.
Is the consortium working in a seller's market? Have they made an offer they think we can't refuse? "Support our proposal as is or we'll withdraw it."
Given its cost, the state government says this proposal is a State Significant Development (SSD).
SSD guidelines state that "applicants ... [should] start their community engagement as soon as possible" (SSD Guidelines, p.15).
The hospital plan has been on the cards for at least a couple of years and only now are they asking us what we think.
There needs to be "community engagement on SSD projects, ... community information sessions and carrying out targeted engagement (site visits, meetings and workshops) with key people or groups to get a better understanding of community concerns" (SSD).
Did I miss the community information session? When was the workshop?
A belated Yoursay survey based on a few brief documents is not effective community engagement.
The new councillors, as one of their first actions, should lobby the government to use "its statutory powers to require [the consortium] to undertake effective community engagement during the development, assessment and implementation of [their proposal]" (SSD).
As soon as public health orders allow I look forward to attending a public information Q and A at BMEC as the first part of an authentic community consultation.