The directors of a company have rethought their Bradfordville health project after the SES raised major concerns about development on "flood affected" land.
They have abandoned plans to build a hospital and aged care facility in light of SES fears that evacuation of people may not be possible in the one in 100-year flood zone that affects part of the Ross Street, Bradfordville site.
Both facilities were proposed to be added to the Goulburn Health Hub, some of which has already been constructed and has been operating for some time.
The comments from both the Office of Environment and Heritage and the SES came in response to a planning proposal lodged by Goulburn Health Hub Pty Ltd in March, 2017.
It aimed to rezone 12.45 hectares adjoining the current Hub and stretching back to Brewer Street, from IN Industrial to SP2 Health Infrastructure. This was to allow for construction of a private hospital and aged care facility, among other medical uses.
The State Government issued a gateway determination the following November and called for a flood investigation and consultation with agencies.
The Office of Environment and Heritage referred to the council's own flood study and said the entire site was prone to flooding from the Wollondilly River, a recent council report stated.
"In a probable maximum flood (PMF), much of the site forms a floodway of the Wollondilly River, and is subject to high hydraulic hazards with depths well exceeding two metres," the agency wrote.
It "strongly recommended" consultation with the SES to ensure that all risks to life were considered. OEH also pointed out that two Aboriginal sites on the property had not been considered and called for greater consultation.
In its response, Goulburn SES said the property was "clearly" within the one in 100-year (or 1pc) probable maximum flood extent.
"While events above the 1pc may be considered rare, it is interesting to note that the recent Townsville flood was determined to be a one in 500-year annual exceedence probability (AEP) and the event in Dungog in 2015, where three people died, was a one in 1000-year AEP, so these events are possible, " SES southeast planning coordinator, Joanne Humphries wrote.
"Given the potential vulnerability of the occupants, I believe that setting the floor levels at 1pc AEP plus 500 metres will be ineffective in protecting future occupants from the flood risk."
The service called for consideration of how occupants would be evacuated, who would do this, where they would go, and for more detail on numbers.
The service acknowledged it had no power to stop the application but asked the council to consider the precedent that could be set by approving "vulnerable facilities" on flood prone land.
Council planners agreed the land rezoning for a hospital and aged care complex "constituted an unacceptable risk to human life and wellbeing."
"It was also noted that the proposed SP2 Health Infrastructure (zone) would not be desirable from an investment point of view, as the kind of infrastructure allowed would be retricted to developments that do not accept in-patients, given the inherent flood risks and the mandatory prohibition of(anything) unrelated to the purpose specified under (the zone)," they reported.
A compromise was struck following a meeting last April between Mayor Bob Kirk, the developers, OEH and SES representatives and council planners.
Now a revised planning proposal will be lodged to the state government asking for a mix of B6 enterprise corridor, general residential and public recreation zonings for the site. The B6 area allows for "non-sensitive" medical facilities, while the recreation zone takes greater account of flood-prone land.
Councillors endorsed the move at their most recent meeting.
If we can get a 23-hour unit with overnight stay through council, then the business case stacks up.Sophie Ashton
Company director Sophie Ashton said while she was aware of the flood-prone land she didn't think this would be the outcome.
"I know there are other hospitals in NSW, like South East Sydney, Shoalhaven, Penrith and Lismore that are built in more threatening areas than the one we're in, so I feel the SES comments led to the compromise," she said.
While they won't be going ahead with the hospital and aged care facility, the developers will proceed with an already approved day surgery unit.
"If we can get the 23-hour operating time with overnight stay through council, then the business case stacks up," Ms Ashton said.
The B6 zoning would still allow for mental health, rehabilitation and potentially, seniors living. It comes with a 13-metre height limit.
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In the residential zone, Ms Ashton said no firm decisions had been made at this stage.
The revised planning proposal will be lodged with State planners. If a gateway determination is forthcoming, it will be placed on public exhibition.
Ms Ashton said the process could take another year and discussions with investors wouldn't restart until "we see light at the end of the tunnel."
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