Mercy Hospital's bid for its own special zone in the
district plan is a test case for other Dunedin facilities, the
private health provider's chief executive, Richard Whitney,
told the Dunedin City Council's hearings committee yesterday.
At present zoned residential, Mercy seeks approval for a
Major Facilities (Mercy Hospital) Zone.
This would allow it to proceed with its long-term
redevelopment plan without requiring resource consent for
Council planner Lianne Darby has recommended approving the
zone, but wants the committee to more tightly prescribe
activities permitted in it.
Acting for Mercy, Bridget Irving, of Gallaway Cook Allan,
said the hospital's immediate expansion plans were spelt out
in a structure plan, anything outside of which would require
Thus, the council maintained sufficient control over the
Further restricting the terms of the zone would undermine the
purpose of seeking the change, she maintained.
Rezoning would allow Mercy to meet growing demand, but would
not compromise the quality of life enjoyed by its neighbours,
Any activity (not just its structure plan) for which Mercy
sought permission would be considered in a new context, where
hospital activities were stipulated as the site's main
Mr Whitney told the hearings panel Mercy was a test case for
other sites in Dunedin, given the council's new district plan
is expected to create other such zones.
His point was agreed by senior policy planner Paul Freeland,
who said it was hoped the second generation district plan
would include new provisions for health, educational, and
possibly sporting facilities.
Mr Whitney said Mercy's redevelopment would expand its floor
space, and also configure the area more logically.
Mercy's structure plan covered its anticipated development
over the next 10-15 years.
This would see floor space increase from 11,774sq m, to a
maximum of 16,500sq m, depending on the projects undertaken.
Its catchment, which took in South Canterbury, comprised
This included supporting South Canterbury's district health
board in some specialties.
It undertook about 6500 surgical procedures a year, in six
Mercy, Otago's sole private hospital, also took Southern DHB
and ACC work.
Development over the years had been piecemeal, Mr Whitney
For each application, the hospital had to justify using the
site for a hospital, which significantly increased costs and
The plan change would provide certainty and efficiency, he
Cr Kate Wilson was concerned by the scope of medical activity
the new definition would allow, and asked whether it needed
to be defined.
She asked numerous question on this point, but was advised
making the zone's definition too narrow could overregulate
the hospital, and have unintended consequences.
Counsellors inquired whether the zone would allow Mercy to
establish a crematorium, and were advised such a development
would be subject to usual restrictions, such as air emission
Cr Wilson suggested local residents were well-served by
Mercy's approach, as it need not have revealed its
redevelopment plan to gain the zone change.
The plan received 11 submissions, two of which opposed the
One submitter, Peter Robb, asked to speak to his submission.
He told the panel Roslyn and Maori Hill had a significant
number of large educational, health, and aged care
Expansion such as Mercy's threatened local amenity, he said.
The hospital should consider opening a facility in another
suburb to meet demand, he said.
The public part of the hearing concluded yesterday.
The panel will today conduct a site visit, and then
Its decision would be released in about 10 days.