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Pete Hodgson
Pete Hodgson
Planning for the new Dunedin Hospital has hit its first major snag.

Decisions due to be made yesterday about the final shape and size of the complex have been deferred until next year.

‘‘It is entirely possible that there will be timing consequences for the project but I just don’t know what they will be,’’ Southern Partnership Group convener Pete Hodgson said.

‘‘I would hope that any effects would be measured in months ... but everyone who knows anything about building hospitals tells me to take your time at the beginning and get things right; you will regret it if you don’t.’’

Mr Hodgson had hoped yesterday’s SPG meeting would agree on, then release the hospital’s master site plan, the planning document setting out the size and location of the hospital buildings, and what services would be offered.

That plan has proven controversial, and the meeting failed to reach unanimity about it.

‘‘I am disappointed but not dismayed. We are going to have a mighty fine hospital,’’ Mr Hodgson said.

‘‘We had unanswered questions in certain areas that would affect both cost and timing.

‘‘However, we have taken some options off the table and have made some progress towards a final size of the hospital.’’

The new hospital was originally intended to be an eight or nine-storey main inpatient building with a smaller six-storey outpatient and day surgery building alongside, offering 50 more beds than the present hospital.

Since then, it has been discovered ground conditions on the central city site are such that piling and foundation work will be considerably more expensive, which prompted clinicians to express fears services they considered vital could be omitted from the new buildings for budget reasons.

‘‘Entire options have been set aside and the number of permutations is reducing,’’ Mr Hodgson said.

‘‘We have a better hospital than we did three months ago, and one that delivers better value for the taxpayer.’’

Options yesterday’s meeting rejected included designs which would have adversely affected Dunedin’s cityscape, Mr Hodgson said.

‘‘One would have affected the historic precinct in general and the railway station in particular, with issues to do with shading and dominance.

‘‘One option was to traverse St Andrew St, not with two bridges but in its entirety, which would have severely damaged the street view and which is contrary to current Dunedin City policy, so would have been a very severe consenting challenge.’’

Mr Hodgson would not confirm what permutations the SPG was still debating, but said the site master plan released earlier this year was one of the remaining options.

‘‘There is a bunch of commercial thinking and financial modelling
to be considered.

‘‘There are some aspects of master site planning at the university to be considered.

‘‘There is further detail to be considered on the effect different designs have on the operational costs of the hospital,’’ Mr Hodgson said.

‘‘I won’t go into detail about that.’’

The next planning stage, the detailed business case, is due to be presented to the Cabinet in March.

Mr Hodgson has previously suggested that document might be late, depending on how long agreement on the master site plan took.

‘‘It is better to take a good decision later than it is to take a satisfactory one now,’’ he said yesterday.

‘‘We have made some solid progress ... we’ve nailed a lot of that stuff but there are still bits missing and there is still some rethinking to be done.’’

The SPG meets next on January 28.


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Grab your popcorn people, another labour failure playing out for all to see

Pete Hodgson, you should be sacked. Once again Dunedin has failed to meet a milestone date - this is the shape of things to come.

'We are going to have a might fine hospital' says Pete. It will never happen, not in Dunedin anyway. Christchurch yes, Queenstown yes, but not Dunedin. It will be deferred to the too-hard basket with the central city upgrade given priority in the hope the residents of Dunedin forget it was ever going to happen.

"Since then, it has been discovered ground conditions on the central city site are such that piling and foundation work will be considerably more expensive"

Discovered!!!!? As an entire central city including multuple buildings of equivalent size and weight have been built in the immediate vicinity,descibing this as a discovery' strains the bounds of credulity.

We seem to have a systemic issue with expensive 'discoveries' of this 'ground condition' problem in this City.

Simply because in the case of a hospital, above all else, should we have an earthquake of any other natural disaster, we will depend greatly on the continuing and uninterupted services of the hospital and it's staff. Is is arguably the most important building in our city, so for a kick off, those foundations are critical. If you know the volcanic and reclamation history of Dunedin, then groundworks would still hold surprises for such an important project. Rushing is something we do not need in this case.

Actually this is the most appropriate course of action here. The last thing we need is a fast track hospital build based on a purely political deadline. There is much work to be done on deciding what’s inside this building let alone what it looks like. I hope Pete Hodgson and team are not only aiming for a “....mighty fine hospital” but also a mighty functional one. Current indications appear to be that we are focussed solely on budget, not the service demands our DHB must meet.

I agree whole hearthedly. The more rush that is applied, the more we risk expensive mistakes. This is to be the largest hospital build in NZ, some good planning and patience is required. Pete and his Labour team with all others involved are doing the right thing. People need to stop fantasing about deadlines all the time, this is too important to us, a seriously 'big build', right here in Dunedin, let's get this one right.

Happy to bang 220 million into a glory project stadium in CHRISTCHURCH but will hold back or pull back the funding for an essentialmedial service centre in Dunedin

The hospital needs to be moved to higher ground to remove the risk of 1.4 billion dollars (likely more) of wasted capital from potential issues to do with sea level rise over its multi-decade lifetime. And it also needs to be more accessible to out of towners with plenty of parking available. Removing it from the central city will in addition alleviate issues to do with its build and its impact on local businesses. The current site is just not suitable due to all of these factors (and of course this foundations issue has 'surprised' before on another well known build). So the sooner this hospital build is moved the better. Dunedin can have a very good hospital (and medical school) but it's just not going to be where it is currently slated for.

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