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Hospital site “for the benefit of local residents”

There is much anxiety among members of the South Sydney community regarding the future of the site where the now derelict Royal South Sydney hospital stands. In June this year, Lord Mayor Clover Moore admitted that the Hillsong Church had expressed interest in the site after its DA for the former RTA site was knocked back. Local residents were concerned that the church would possibly be relocated just up the road on the site where the hospital once operated reports Nicholas McCallum in the South Sydney Herald of October 2008.

The area concerned stands between Joynton Avenue, Portman and Hansard Streets in Zetland, borders the Green Square town centre, and will have over $1.7 billion injected into it over coming years. Ms Moore stated that the money is being spent on facilities for the local community. Green Square is flagged for urban renewal, but there is still concern from the locals in relation to what the future might hold.

Residents feel that aged care facilities are rudimentary for the area’s future.

One commented that Council owns the land and can do with it what it chooses and that the Mayor’s triumphant return to office in September has given her a mandate to act in the interest of locals. “Aged care use [for the site] will be a gesture of good will to the local community,” he said, adding, “Though it is Clover, and it’s her town”.

There is a sentiment among South Sydney residents that the City Council has neglected them over the past four years, and now urgent action is required.

Executive Director for the Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development, Pam Marsh, believes that the South Sydney area is in desperate need of an audit to determine what available resources can possibly be used for the benefit of local residents, not merely for regular development. Ms Marsh believes that the needs of the local community should be placed above all else when considering future development in the area.

“People will be very upset if the former South Sydney Hospital site goes to regular development,” she said, adding that the local community is almost destitute in regard to localised facilities.

Ms Marsh commented that the protracted closing of the hospital from 1991 until 2003 has failed to provide an alternative in services for South Sydney residents, with the elderly most affected. “Sydney Council has not been very accommodating and they are not dealing with the population,” she said, “They are at a huge disadvantage and things should be better.”

The Mayor’s office has tipped that it is favouring aged-care facilities and affordable housing for the site. However, a climate of fear surrounding it has materialised due to the State Labor Government’s pro-developer laws. Currently, Sydney City Council is at the mercy of limitations that are imposed upon the site, and redevelopment will need to adhere to its heritage restrictions. The Mayor’s office has also predicted possible new health and fitness centres, a library and other community facilities for family services to be developed at the site.

Photo: Ali Blogg - Caption: The old South Sydney Hospital

Source: South Sydney Herald October 2008