Is this our version of The Block? Ratepayers asked to develop old hospital

TO avoid a “cheap and nasty” redevelopment of the old Orange Base Hospital precinct, councillor Russell Turner says Orange City Council should push through plans to buy the site, for an estimated $3 million, and redevelop it. 

Cr Turner said the benefits of buying the site, in the heart of Orange, and building a variety of housing configurations on it, would be felt for many years to come.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop this for quality housing,” he said.

“It’s the only way council can control the site and retain some say in the development.”

Cr Turner wants the buildings, which are owned by Health Infrastructure, renovated and re-purposed, with the main hospital building turned into apartments, Paddington-style terraces built in Anson Street, and the old Ambulance building turned into a cafe or restaurant.

Cr Turner said before council could buy the site it would need to determine that it had been decontaminated.

Council spokesman Nick Redmond said the old hospital precinct was a strategic site for the city and council had not ruled out its purchase or, alternatively, acting only as a development consent authority.

“[Purchasing] it could be an opportunity for council to be more closely involved in the development,” he said.

Mr Redmond said council may look at buying the site in partnership with another party, or purchasing it outright to ensure it had some say in what is built, and its design.

Orange councillors have mixed views when it comes to purchasing the site, with councillor Chris Gryllis saying he was against council buying the land.

Cr Neil Jones said it was still early days when it came to making a decision.

He said, unlike Cr Kevin Duffy, he did not want the site turned into parkland and he wanted to see housing on the site.

“We have iconic parks, Robertson Park and Cook Park, and the botanic gardens in the north and Gosling Creek in the south, I think we’re already well-placed for major parklands,” he said.

“I believe it’s an opportunity to have a mixed-use site with parks and accommodation, and a neighbourhood coffee shop in a close proximity to the CBD.”

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