Council to find a cure for old hospital site

THE redevelopment of the old Orange Base Hospital was one thing that got away from Orange City Council in the past year, according to Orange mayor John Davis.

But he expects the future of the vandal-prone site could be revealed as early as March.

In May, the council began negotiating with the site’s owners Health Infrastructure (HI) about potentially entering into a partnership to redevelop the site as a residential area.

Discussions have continued between the department and the council’s general manager Garry Styles, and Cr Davis is confident it will be announced in the first six months of 2014.

“The best result for the government would be to knock it down and sell it as a vacant block of land, but it would be the least profitable option,” he said.

“They want the best result for treasury and the community at large ... it could be developed into a small village-type set-up and that would be absolutely fantastic.”

Cr Davis acknowledged the heat had been taken out of the real estate market, but said Orange was far from entering into a recession.

“There’s no risk you’d have to be conservative and it was never going to be developed overnight in one go, it will have to be done in stages,” he said.

“But there’s got to be positive thinking, by 2016/17 we could be absolutely fantastic and really under pressure for more housing.”

In 2014, Cr Davis believes the council’s next focus will be facilities targeting young people, including the long-awaited rectangular sporting field complex and upgrades to Wade Park.

Aside from recreation, he said the main priority for 2014 needs to be car parking and the appearance of the central business district, including the Anson Street pedestrian crossing and car park near Woolworths.

Several years of increased roads spending will continue, including work on the Northern Distributor Road. 

Work to install traffic lights at the Forest Road/Huntley Road intersection was expected to start by the end of 2013 as part of the first stage of the Southern Feeder Road.

But Cr Davis said the council’s planning department had done a lot of behind-the-scenes work in the past year and in the next six months residents will see the start of “physical” work from Dairy Creek Road to Jack Brabham Park and the Huntley Road entrance into the Orange Health Service reopened.

“It’s the only big one where we didn’t put the shovel in the ground,” he said.

Construction work will begin on the Orange Regional Museum after a tender is awarded in the next six months, Cr Davis said.

He said the Orange Waste Project will “get the accolades it deserves” when it is finalised in early 2014. Although Cr Davis  acknowledged there was still anger from some quarters about the fees for the green waste bins, most residents had a better understanding of the system since it began in June.

TEN THINGS ORANGE CAN EXPECT IN 2014:

- Plans to redevelop the old hospital site.

- A council campaign to help Orange recover from Electrolux’s closure.

- The start of construction work on the Orange Regional Museum.

- Changes to parking in the CBD.

- Work to install traffic lights at the Forest Road/Huntley Road intersection as part of the first stage of the Southern Feeder Road.

- The finalisation of the hub waste project with a review of the green waste bin system in the first six months.

- Improved youth facilities.

- New airport terminal.

- Roadworks on Northern Distributor Road and auxiliary roads.

- Upgrades at the Orange Showground including a hard stand area.

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