COUNCILLOR Bobby Bourke has defended plans for the proposed Bathurst Integrated Medical Centre, which have received some criticism since they were unveiled in August.
The medical centre would be built on the former Clancy Motors site in Howick Street and stand at around 25 metres tall - more than twice the limit in the Bathurst Development Control Plan (DCP).
Residents have expressed concern over the location, the impact a facility of this nature could have on traffic in the CBD, and the height of the building itself.
Cr Bourke, who was mayor when the development consortium approached Bathurst Regional Council, said the medical centre would address the need for better health services in the region.
"The developers approached council and I arranged the meeting to meet with them, myself, the general manager and the relevant directors," he said.
"There was no 'devil in the details', nor was the meeting held in secret. The meeting was just there to discuss the intentions to build a medical facility, which will benefit Bathurst into the future.
"The site proposed by the consortium will have a lot of benefits for residents, businesses and the community at large. The meeting would have went for at least two hours.
"I was ecstatic that we do have these developers and a consortium wanting to build a facility that will take Bathurst into the future. We all know we don't like travelling on the bus to Orange, or even in a car to Orange, for our medical needs.
"Bathurst is growing and getting bigger. If the building's got to go up an extra two storeys from what it usually is, what of it? Just do it. Cut the red tape and get on with it."
Cr Bourke also addressed criticism about the public engagement process.
He claimed that the development consortium "really wanted to engage council and the community on what they could do" and said that, like many things, COVID was impacting the ability to conduct the usual forms of public consultation, such as information sessions.
"We are in COVID. There is plenty of information coming from the media and council, and the developers and [the public] will have that chance to speak out as we continue to have those talks," Cr Bourke said.
"The vast majority of the residents, they want this, and they've waited a long time to have something like this. And that's what Bathurst needs, so it's time to build it, not wait around forever."
The proposed medical centre, which will cost $70 million, has been deemed a state significant development and will therefore need approval from the NSW Government to be built.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: