BATHURST Regional Council is preparing to make a decision that will either support or deny the future development of the Bathurst Integrated Medical Centre (BIMC).
But, no matter what the decision is, there will be a significant amount of the people left unhappy.
On December 14, councillors will vote on whether or not to adopt an amendment to the Local Environment Plan (LEP), which would introduce site-specific planning controls that would facilitate the construction of an integrated medical centre and associated car park.
A decision to support the amendment would not grant development consent for the BIMC. That decision will need to be made at a state level.
Council's director of Environmental, Planning and Building Services has prepared a report ahead of the upcoming meeting.
It follows significant community consultation, which resulted in 217 written responses, 41 per cent of which were against the changes proposed to the height of buildings and floor space ratio planning controls for the Howick Street site.
The report includes responses to the concerns those in opposition had raised.
PEOPLE have objected to the proposed location of the medical centre and car park, which would be constructed on the former Clancy Motors site at 252 Howick Street.
The premises has been largely vacant since the car dealership moved to Kelso in 2016.
The submissions suggested that the BIMC should be part of a designated health precinct, close to the existing hospital, with some highlighting council-owned land in Durham Street as a suitable option if the sporting facilities or depot were relocated.
In its response to location concerns, council said the developer has investigated several potential locations, including a location near the public hospital.
A discussion paper, prepared in 2020, about the health precinct planning in Bathurst has effectively ruled this option out due to the complexities of relocating other facilities.
"Whilst the precinct surrounding the existing base hospital was considered as a long-term opportunity to deliver expanded services (including private health services), the discussion paper noted the constraints of finding, and funding, a relocation of existing recreation activities or the council works depot to make some or all of these lands available," council's response said.
"... Whilst acknowledging that a location close to the existing hospital would be desirable, the discussion paper highlighted the CBD as an opportunity to accommodate a greater deal of community, primary and allied health, and activities related to social support.
"The discussion paper welcomed the location of a new private hospital within the CBD, the provision of better services a major consideration even if not co-located with the public hospital."
Impact on traffic
WITH the development of a major medical facility, concerns have been raised about the impact on traffic in the CBD.
In its response, council highlighted the preliminary traffic impact assessment submitted by the applicant of the planning proposal.
Council sought a peer review of the assessment, which concluded that the document "generally takes into reasonable account the potential impacts of the proposed medical centre development and the construction of a multi-storey car park".
The peer review identifies that there are matters regarding potential traffic generation rates for the proposed development and service vehicle access impacts that should be addressed to assess the true impacts of the proposed development on the adjacent street and the surrounding existing developments.
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) was also consulted about the planning proposal and does not support the proposal. It requires additional information to review its position.
It recommend that a movement and place assessment should be provided using the Movement and Place Practitioners Guide.
Council's said: "The design of the building within the site and its connections with the CBD as presented in the planning proposal is not expected to be the final design. It is difficult and probably a duplication to require submission at planning proposal stage of the more detailed traffic assessment identified by both the peer review report prepared by Traffic Matters and Transport for NSW.
"To ensure appropriate traffic assessment and consideration of movement and connections, particularly pedestrian, cycle, vehicular and service accessibility to and around the site, relevant considerations for movement and place, inclusive of a more detailed analysis of traffic impact based on the finalised site designs, should be inserted into the proposed LEP clause."
THOSE who have objected to the amendment have also cited a lack of economic benefit, saying the development will not yield the expect benefits.
They claim that the professional services proposed for the site already exist in the CBD and several providers have stated they will move their premises there.
In response to this, council has said that the BIMC could become an anchor in the CBD after changes to retail businesses and the growth in online shopping.
"A CBD location for the private hospital provides a viable alternative to additional retail floor space within the city to enhance the existing strengths of the CBD as a regional destination and employment precinct," it said.
"The project represents a significant investment in the CBD with significant social benefits. It will add a new anchor to this part of the CBD and this can be expected to increase other investment confidence.
"A decision not to proceed with this planning proposal may have the opposite effect of decreasing investment confidence in the Bathurst CBD."
Council noted that the Bathurst Town Centre Masterplan supports new uses within the CBD that continue to activate the precinct, particularly as a response to changes in retailing.
SINCE the BIMC was proposed in December, 2020, one of the key concerns raised by the community has been the impact this large, modern building would have on Bathurst's heritage area.
This was again raised in submissions.
In its response, council said that the sites are in the Bathurst heritage conservation area, but are not listed as heritage items, and the existing building on the BMIC site is not known to have any heritage significance.
The old Clancy Motors building is deemed "intrusive" using the the methodology established under the Bathurst Conservation Management Strategy (BCAMS).
The Statement of Heritage Impact identifies that the site has potential archaeological significance as it is the site of the Busby Cottage, known for its association with Dr George Busby, who built his house on the subject site in 1838.
It is recognised as being the oldest Bathurst house built for a private individual.
The statement recommends that a physical interpretation and representation of this history and place is included in the development scope.
Additionally, the statement indicated the new development should not be the defining feature of the historic streetscapes and supports the inclusion of design excellence provisions in the LEP amendment to guide the design.
"Inclusion of these provisions will ensure that these new building envelopes can only be used to construct development that provides a positive enhancement to the character of the heritage conservation area and the urban experience of the precinct," council said.
Council has also acknowledged that a building of the bulk and scale "will have an impact on the setting of Howick Street and the surrounding street network".
"All change has an impact; what is critical in relation to this planning proposal is whether council can be satisfied that the impact can be appropriately managed and mitigated as suggested in the SoHI," it added.
Council's goes into great detail in its response to heritage concerns. It's full response can be viewed in the business papers for the December 14 meeting, which can be found on council's website.
COUNCIL'S report includes responses to concerns raised about car parking, creating a precedence, and the future use of buildings.
Regarding the latter, council said that an absolute guarantee cannot be given that the future buildings will forever be used for health and car parking purposes.
"The LEP clause relates only to the erection of the buildings and then becomes redundant such that adaptive reuse of the buildings for other purposes into the future would be permitted within the planning controls that apply at the time, not dissimilar to the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings," it said.
"If a use other than health and ancillary uses and carpark, respectively, is proposed on the sites to which the planning proposal applies, such a use would be subject to a subsequent development application."
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