"The integrity and character of our area" isn’t just under threat, Ms Cuthbertson (Your Say, 10 Oct); it is already being attacked and destroyed at this end of the peninsula, as you would have seen if you have been down as far as Frenchs Forest lately. Of course, I appreciate it is a long drive from where you are at Avalon Beach, particularly if you have a medical emergency and you (or your ambulance) must negotiate the long, narrow, winding, no-overtaking stretch of road known as Wakehurst Parkway, even assuming it isn’t closed through flooding.
But the hospital is being built here because the planners would have us believe is the centre of the Northern Beaches Health Service catchment. Yeah right! And the report on which the choice of site was based is “not available in the public domain”, despite the billion dollars or so of public money going into it.
When you have the combined might of NSW Planning, Health Infrastructure, and now Warringah Council chipping in, all determined to “develop” what has until now been a pleasant residential suburb, you don’t stand much chance. I sympathise with your loss of a few boughs of trees to selfish vandals; we’ve already lost acres of valuable bush to make room for a 10-storey hospital, a helipad and a 12-lane highway. And that’s just for starters.
The interests of the existing residents, who live here because we like the way it is/was, and don’t want it to be destroyed, are of no consequence.
You have every reason to be worried, Ms Cuthbertson.
The artist’s impression of the hospital (Your Say, 3 Oct), “Supplied” by a conveniently unnamed source, is grossly misleading.
1. The hospital will be as much as 10 storeys high, plus services;
2. Warringah Road will be 12 lanes wide, and will involve the removal of all the homes and businesses shown on the left of the picture, ie the South side of the road.
3. Most of the vegetation shown embracing the main part of the hospital has already gone.
4. There will be a helipad, the noise from which the planners consider unimportant.
Just about the most accurate element of the picture is the traffic gridlock.
Eira Battaglia (Letters, 1 Oct) may be assured that the “anti-hospital letter writers” have been very vociferous over several years, to Ministers and other politicians, Departments, Council, the Manly Daily, et al. But if a Government is both blind and deaf to common sense, and can’t see that the Frenchs Forest site is the wrong place for a hospital, they are hard to reason with.
But it is never too late to stop good tax-payer money being poured after bad (although it is too late for the flora and fauna, I agree). There are still three Environmental Impact Statements not yet approved, and the contract to build and operate the hospital has not yet been awarded.
The NSW Planning documentation for the new hospital states "The NSW Government confirmed the selection of the Frenchs Forest site for the new Northern Beaches Hospital in 2006. This decision was informed by a robust qualitative analysis …”. So why is that report being kept secret? Especially when the Planning Minister who gave the hospital project State Significant status, Brad Hazzard, promised in a White Paper that the planning system should have “Transparency - Planning authorities are to make decisions in an open and transparent way and provide the community with reasons for their decisions (including how community views have been taken into account)”.
If necessary, the Freedom of Information Act should be invoked to enable the public to understand a decision that otherwise seems ludicrous, for the following reasons:
1. The combined impact of the hospital and proposed roading development will destroy the character and amenity of the residential suburb for existing residents, especially those subject to compulsory purchase of their property;
2. The assertion that "The proposed hospital site is ... centrally located within the NBHS [Northern Beaches Health Service] catchment area” is palpably false. Just look at the map on page 12 of the Northern Sydney Local Health District “Clinical Services Plan 2012-2016”. (Google NSLHD_CSP2012-1.pdf)
3. The major North/South arterial access road to the Frenchs Forest site is almost 15 kms of mostly 2-lane, double-line no-overtaking road which is prone to closure through flooding. Even on dry days, how are ambulances supposed to fight their way through? I hope it doesn’t need a fatal accident involving an ambulance to drive that message home.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a site which doesn’t have these insoluble problems, possibly in the Terrey Hills area. And the Frenchs Forest site could still be turned into a nice open park, or sports fields.
It’s not too late!
There aren't too many ways available for venting one's anger or frustration at some of the things happening in the world around us. One such escape valve is the good old Letter to the Editor, even if only a small proportion of them gets published. It is often well-nigh impossible to keep the discussion short enough for the newspapers. So rather that have them expire in some Editor's Trash bin, we'll preserve them for posterity here. Inevitably, though, some nuances will be lost for those unfamiliar with the background or the letter or article to which we are responding. But each is undoubtedly a miniature literary masterpiece, though you may find the themes become somewhat repetitive.