NEWS that community organisation CareWest will breathe life into at least two buildings at the former Orange Base Hospital site will no doubt be welcomed by everyone.
Since the hospital moved to its Bloomfield home in March 2011 the site has become one of the city’s most prominent eyesores.
Last year, Orange City Council signed off on the rezoning of the site from residential to medium density which was expected to pave the way for apartment-style residential developments at the site.
But almost two years since the hospital closed the site remains as vacant as ever.
It may seem surprising that Apex House and Anson Cottage will remain in the realm of health/community services, but not when the medical practices that remain in the area are taken into account.
The new concept unveiled by CareWest including a drop-in centre, will no doubt cement Orange’s reputation as the region’s health hub.
All too often people from out of town who come to Orange for medical appointments are forced to take a breather in the busy central business district, so a dedicated facility will be welcomed.
CareWest plans to modernise the existing facility, and with the former rehabilitation centre Apex House left virtually untouched for the last few years, the group will have a big job ahead of them.
The heritage value of the hospital was a hotly debated issue last year when council bowed to pressure from the site’s owner Health Infrastructure and dropped the site from the city’s heritage list fearing restrictions would leave the site vacant for longer and scare sales away.
At the time history advocates identified Anson Cottage as one of three sites of significance at the hospital.
Although CareWest will be free to redevelop the buildings without the restriction of a heritage listings, hopefully the revamp will acknowledge the role the site played for many years.