State budget stumps up for Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment

Exploratory drilling as part of the Goulburn Base Hospital's redevelopment underway in January. Springfield House, (pictured), housing mental health services, will be demolished as part of the $120 million project. Photo: Mariam Koslay.

Exploratory drilling as part of the Goulburn Base Hospital's redevelopment underway in January. Springfield House, (pictured), housing mental health services, will be demolished as part of the $120 million project. Photo: Mariam Koslay.

Tuesday’s State budget will confirm $120 million in funding for Goulburn Base Hospital’s redevelopment.

Goulburn MP Pru Goward concedes it is not unexpected, given the State’s previous commitment, but says the money gives surety.

“It wasn’t in last year’s budget and which year it would be included was always the problem,” she said.

“It means we are now able to complete the detailed design works and put the project to tender in the immediate future.”

Ms Goward said consultation had taken a long time but it was important to “get it right.”

The four-storey redevelopment includes new inpatient beds, intensive care unit and paediatric services,  a refurbishment of maternity and ambulatory care services, a new emergency department, among other aspects, and unites all acute care services on the one site.

A development application for the State significant project will be lodged this year and publicly exhibited for community comment.

“Once the tender has been approved, we expect demolition work to get underway early in the new year and construction and commencement by mid to late 2018,” Ms Goward said

“This is fantastic news for our community and it will guarantee 21st century hospital facilities right here in Goulburn.”

Construction is expected to take three years, a timeframe the MP says is benchmarked against other similar sized major health redevelopments across the state.

The MP said she had seen the plans, which used land at the site “far more efficiently.” She was confident there was enough space for palliative care, currently housed at the Bourke Street Health Service, and for parking.

“We have to ensure all land there is fit for purpose. No doubt this will all take a while but we firstly had to get the money in the budget and I’m very pleased it’s in the final papers,” Ms Goward told The Post.

The MP drew flak from Goulburn Labor and the community when the money wasn’t included in last year’s budget.

Meantime, Mayor Bob Kirk and council general manager Warwick Bennett are hoping for a slice of the State pie for the city’s proposed performing arts facility.

The council has applied for $2 million under the State’s Regional Growth Environment and Tourism fund for the $12.1 million project.

There’s no hint yet whether money for the centre will be included in Tuesday’s budget.

But Mr Bennett said the business case “stacked up.” 

SGS Economics and Planning has completed a business case for the performing arts centre. It is available from the council on request and will be discussed in part at Tuesday’s council meeting.

It concludes a net present value of $4.4 million and a benefit cost ratio of 1:2. Further, it found the bulk of the annual $1.5m in costs would be covered by ticket sales and bar/cafe turnover.

The centre’s projected cost has risen from $11.4m to $12.1m. But Mr Bennett recommends to the meeting that the council request the architect to review the work’s design and scope to meet the $11.4m budget.

At the same time, he wrote: “We should now accept the cost will be $12.1m.”

Ms Goward is helping the council secure more funding through the State’s recently announced Regional Growth Fund but says the business case needs to be “more robust” to convince the government of the project’s financial sustainability.

Senior staff are refining the business case to this end.

Meantime, the council has forwarded the development application for the centre to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP). It includes an independent assessment by Upper Lachlan Shire Council, given that Goulburn Mulwaree is the applicant.

Mr Bennett said although the JRPP had not set a hearing date, he expected this to be in mid July.

Mayor Bob Kirk said he felt confident that the council had met all requirements, including on parking, which has attracted public criticism.

“We have put forward why it should be accepted and the fact that we are trying to find other (parking) options through greater connectivity (between streets) in the CBD,” he said.

Regarding the $12.1m cost, Cr Kirk said it was evident at a May public meeting that the community generally supported the increase if it was to secure a usable space.

“Our job is to represent the community and we also have to take a realistic view in delivering it,” he said.  

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