Plans to demolish the former Woden CIT campus and build a temporary car park on the site to support the SPIRE project at Canberra Hospital have been labelled short-sighted and part of an ad hoc approach to developing the hospital precinct.
The Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) says the move, announced on Friday by Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith, will mean opportunities to refurbish the site and locate allied health services there as part of the hospital precinct will be lost, despite the government saying the zoning for the site will remain for community use.
WVCC president Fiona Carrick said the government had not been transparent about its plans for the hospital precinct and the community had been left out in the cold.
“There is no planning about what to do with that site,” she said. “They just fob us off saying it will be community facility land, and who knows what that means? Why is this happening before we even have a precinct plan for the hospital precinct?
“If you knock down those buildings now you take away the opportunities, because when will they ever have enough money in the budget to rebuild?”
Ms Carrick said there could be a staged process for rebirthing the campus, including the building of a new hydrotherapy pool.
But Ms Stephen-Smith said refurbishment was considered but the buildings were found to contain friable asbestos and demolition was recommended as the most sensible option.
She said the Government would work with the community to consider options for future use of the site after SPIRE was completed.
The government says the new surface car park’s more than 1100 additional parking spaces will benefit hospital staff, visitors and construction workers while the new emergency, surgical and critical healthcare facility and other projects are being constructed over the next fours.
Ms Stephen-Smith said the car park would include appropriate security and shuttle bus services.
Demolition will start in the first quarter of 2020, with construction of the car park to begin mid-year. It is expected to open before the main SPIRE works start next year. The SPIRE project is due to be completed in 2024.
“We will continue to investigate long-term parking solutions at the Canberra Hospital campus as part of the Master Planning process. Input from hospital staff, consumers and local residents will be an important part of this process,” said Ms Stephen-Smith.