A LARGE chunk of former golf course land at Bradfordville could be transformed into a “factory for health” if a local company has its way.
Cullingral Pty Ltd, a family superannuation company controlled by financier and district property owner Wallace Ashton and daughter Sophie, is hoping to gather public feedback on the plan, lodged with the council late last year.
The estimated $15 million proposal involves construction of a medical centre with bulk billing, day surgery, room for visiting specialists, childcare centre, community health services and numerous allied health services.
The project in Ross St would occupy 13,000 square metres of a 144,000 block Mr Ashton bought two years ago.
He said he pondered the land’s use for some time before deciding on a concept that was in demand and would be of benefit to Goulburn.
“This (health) is the biggest growth area in Australia,” Mr Ashton told the Post.
“It’s bigger than mining and it’s the biggest problem facing the government.
How do you pay for it? The only way is to make it cost effective.”
He believed he could make health more affordable through Goulburn’s cheaper land prices, at the same time enticing health professionals, patients and users from the wider region. It would encompass both public and private involvement.
The company envisions a “onestop” primary health care facility, also comprising dentists, chemist, optometrists, cosmetic and complementary services. The community health centre would provide diagnostic, aged and disability services, among others.
The Ashtons are also keen to tap into the growing E-health sector and to encourage information exchange among specialists visiting from Sydney, Canberra and elsewhere.
Mr Ashton said the first aspect, the medical centre, valued at about $3m, could be up and running in two years, with the rest developed in a short timeframe thereafter. The company is hoping to involve local practices and providers. The Ashtons anticipate landholders will come on board as investors, with an overarching entity in control.
But why Bradfordville? Mr Ashton said the block size allowed for a more holistic health service but also plenty of parking, which, along with drop offs, was a problem in Goulburn’s CBD.
“With waiting times, going to the doctor can easily kill two hours,” he said.
“Our centre will be a spot where people would like to spend time, sit down and have a coffee in the café or under a gum tree if they like.
“The critical thing is to make it an appealing environment. It’s basically giving the people of Goulburn the new wave in health care. It has to be a pleasing place to be.”
Mr Ashton, who owns ‘Gordonvale’ on the Taralga Rd and another property at Myrtleville, is in the process of passing on the family business to his daughter Sophie, a company director and former Barclay’s banker.
Ms Ashton said local medical practices approached about involvement in the project were generally positive, but some were concerned about the competition. She expected talks to gain momentum once the DA was approved.
A project manager will oversee the development and the Ashton’s ongoing involvement will be guided by that person’s advice.
The land is zoned Clean Industrial and the use is permissible, provided it doesn’t involve a hospital or educational facilities, Ms Ashton says.
“I think it is achievable,” she told the Post.
“Bradfordville is a growing suburb of Goulburn and I think the demographics are geared toward affordable and efficient access to health care.
“We have the advantage of delivering health at an affordable rate due to the land prices, and we can also draw on the outer region as far away as Campbelltown.
“It’s a big project but we’re thinking big.”
The Ashtons will host a community forum explaining more about the project and gathering feedback at the Goulburn Soldiers Club on Tuesday, February 26 at 6pm.