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Sydney St Vincent's Hospital in planning controversy


A town planning expert has attacked a controversial deal by the NSW government that rezones land and allows the construction of a 12-storey development at the St Vincent's Hospital Caritas property in Sydney's Darlinghurst.

Sydney Morning Herald architecture and planning writer, Elizabeth Farrelly, today criticises a plan by the NSW state government to to rezone Caritas land as Crown land for private sale.

The rezoned land described by Farrelly as "heritage-listed, sandstone district Crown land" is to be sold by St Vincent's for a 12 storey development, she says.

That's bad, for a start. Plus, it being hospital, no height controls pertain. Only now, with temptation on the table, does the Government get around to sizing what amounts to its own pay-off. It's irresistible; the higher, the yummier.

According to Farrelly, the hospital "wisely" plans to consolidate its existing Caritas psychiatric facility into the main hospital campus.

"This is a good, desperately needed thing; should have happened years ago," Farrelly writes.

The rezoned freed-up land will then be sold for residential development.

"The Government foots half the $41million for the new psych-hospital," Farrelly says.

But rather than cough up the rest, it offers to rezone Caritas, as Crown land, for private sale, she says.

"That's bad, for a start. Plus, it being hospital, no height controls pertain. Only now, with temptation on the table, does the Government get around to sizing what amounts to its own pay-off."

"Dodgier still is the way Caritas qualifies as a 'major project, so coming under ministerial, not council, jurisdiction."

The fact that the new "integrated service cluster" costs more than $15 million "flips the entire shebang into the minister's lap; notwithstanding that Caritas is no health-care building but a straight residential rezoning, only indirectly 'for the purpose of' (funding) health care".

"This means any development whose owner gives government money (or even taxes) will qualify for the minister's conflicted purview, provided the proposal is sufficiently gross," Farrelly says.

But objectors are caught. "Since x-fewer floors on the Caritas site means y-fewer beds for St Vincent's, they end up looking not just nimby-esque but downright, well, uncharitable," Farrelly concludes.


SOURCE
The quality of mercy is likely to be severely strained (Sydney Morning Herald, 22/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney

ARCHIVE
'Preferred partnership' between new nursing school and Sydney hospitals (CathNews, 1310/05)
St Vincent's to save embattled suburban hospital (CathNews, 28/6/04)

22 Nov 2006