No, Mr Calacouras , the “real tragedy” as you describe it is that the hospital is being built in the wrong place. ("Preparation disaster a sight for sore eyes”, Sat 1 Oct 16).
The planning Environmental Impact Statements on which the hospital was approved claimed that the site was chosen in 2006 after a “rigorous qualitative analysis”. But the Health Department’s 2005 Development Options Business Case, which contains the results of the study, actually ranked the Frenchs Forest site a distant third operationally amongst the six locations considered. However, it was fairly “low risk”, ie not too much objection was anticipated. And it was cheaper than some of the other options, primarily because the roading upgrades were quoted as being $21.3 million, a far cry from the $500 million currently quoted.
It was also claimed that the Frenchs Forest site is central to the Catchment area (Manly, Warringah and Pittwater LGAs, as was), which is manifestly false geographically, and a demographic study at the time said the population-weighted centre was around Cromer.
When the then Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, signed the Order in Oct 2013 giving the hospital the go-ahead, there was no review of the 2006 decision, and no update to the erroneous data which was then at least 8 years old. Nor subsequently did NSW Planning adequately evaluate the validity of NSW Health’s submissions. After all, one part of government is hardly likely to say “No” to another part of government.
So what they are doing is exactly what you say, "just plonk a massive hospital in the middle of a quiet neighbourhood” destroying the suburb and mis-spending public money at the same time. All on the basis of false information! That’s the “real tragedy”.
As regards the Council’s Precinct Plan, as it hasn’t been published yet, how can you say what it will contain? It is conjecture and speculation to say "It will lead to the rezoning of streets and allow for developers to build high- and medium-density apartments. It will feed into the new businesses that will be set up to cater for the influx of people.”
The Planning Department has been trying for 40-odd years to impose “containment”, which means having people work and live in the same place. They haven’t succeeded yet, so there need not be an influx of people. If they wanted staff accommodation, they should have included it on the hospital site. The same goes for any other facilities the hospital needs, such as catering.
Overall, you appear to have allowed yourself to become a voice for the greed-fuelled developer/real estate lobby, rather than maintain the professional objectivity required of journalism. The public influence which attaches to your position needs to be exercised more carefully.
However, you are quite right to ask "what are they going to do about parking?”. The hospital approvals say there is to be a parking plan in place within 6 months of the hospital opening, but the need is already with us, with the streets around the site full of parked vehicles belonging to construction workers. Yes, a car park will be built, but how will staff and visitors be persuaded or compelled to use it? Council needs to act now to protect residents from the congestion and danger the traffic situation produces, not wait until well after it opens.
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.