The arguments surrounding the sporting precinct development promulgated by some councillors with predetermined views are completely missing the point and should be both confusing and troubling to the Orange community.
The real facts for consideration by the community are;
1) Neither the medical staff council, nor management of the Orange Hospital were consulted on this project. They are both opposed to the development and have significant concerns over the effect of increased traffic congestion and noise on patient outcomes and wellbeing.
2) The Orange medical precinct is a nationally recognised centre of excellence. The unique combination of a public hospital, psychiatric hospital, private hospital, medical schools and aged care, provides an extraordinary combined benefit and service to our community. This facility, particularly the public hospital, is already bursting at the seams and if Orange and the region grow the way council plans then another hospital of similar size and complexity will be required within our lifetimes. Expanding existing medical facilities rather than building anew always has significant advantages due to the huge capital expenditure needed inside Hospitals.
3) The area under consideration has been a Health precinct since the land was granted as crown land in 1895 and a hospital was built in 1924. Orange Council again designated this as a Health Precinct as recently as 2020. Even so, council have been developing their own plans to develop a large section of the precinct as residential housing. This is just a land grab.
4) We all agree Orange needs additional sporting facilities. Best principles of urban design dictate these should be built as standalone stadiums and other facilities spread through the community. We have the trotting track,the showground and Wade Park, that all need development and/or improvement,and readily integrated into the community. We also have many additional greenfield sites, such as the Northern Distributor site that Council already purchased for the stadium . While council believes that having centralised playing fields are "easier to maintain", there is evidence that communities benefit from multiple distinct sporting and recreational sites.
5) Councils decision to divide the development into three Development applications is against all government recommended governance principles and is under legal challenge. What happens if the DA for the land clearing goes ahead, yet when the new council is elected and finds the total development costs exceed the budget, there is not further approval?. We are simply left with a large flat empty block where once we had parkland.
6) Without transparency regarding the final plans and costs, who can believe this can all be developed for $25 Million ?. Both the community and council should be asked to vote on the entire development and costs.
7) The $25 million promised by the government for a stadium is not contingent on this site. The reason for the delay in this development has been councils plan to move of the site from the NDR to Bloomfield and the subsequent governmental need for additional review. As it currently stands this is a poorly designed, unsustainable and unplanned project.
Councillor Hamling in his article this week is correct, we do have a unique "once in a lifetime" opportunity.
We can, through considered planning, have an extraordinary medical facility able to grow with the community; a green buffer around that facility that can become a nationally recognised urban park; and have multiple fantastic sporting facilities for the community.
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