CLAREMONT Council has taken over public consultation of the proposed expansion of Bethesda Hospital after ratepayers claimed the applicants’ was too limited.
“That means the council will now carryout this consultation, and then it will come back to its elected members,” Mayor Jock Barker said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, about 20 local residents successfully petitioned the council to defer considering a change to Claremont’s Town Planning Scheme (TPS) so the hospital may expand from 77 to 97 beds in a long-term masterplan developed in 2014.
The residents claimed the only reason 16 people went to the last of three community meetings hosted by the hospital in November 2017 was because one of their neighbours photocopied and distributed a letter from Bethesda themselves.
Freshwater Parade resident Joanne Spence said the hospital’s claimed actions last year had created an impression of deception when ratepayers had genuine concerns about any more expansion’s impact on traffic congestion, nearby schools and rezoning changes.
“There could be large buildings on what it now residential on a crowded corner,” Victoria Avenue resident Ainslie de Vos said.
Bethesda chief executive Yasmin Naglazas said the TPS change was needed for planning certainty, after which the hospital would go to its neighbours with definite plans for comment.
“Our clinical masterplan tells us there is s burgeoning need for clinical care in the Claremont community, particularly with palliative care and cancers,” Ms Naglazas said.
Possible redevelopment in the masterplan could comprise a minor extension of the hospital on its 12,151 sq m Lot 13 Queenslea Drive, and moving non-essential services to the adjoining Lot 12 where an out-patient clinic and more car parking could be built.
However, councillors were swayed by their ratepayers’ concerns.
“This is a very important matter for the community and they need time,” Cr Chris Mews said.
It was agreed to defer considering changing the TPS for about two months until completed council consultation.