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The Government bought a king-sized block of the new Dunedin hospital site yesterday, buying the former Cadbury chocolate factory site from Mondelez.
The purchase is a huge boost for the $1.4billion project, coming just four weeks after the announcement of where the hospital would be built.
"It's nice to have secured half the land in such a short order. I'm delighted,'' Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson said.
"There's no turning back now.''
The Public Works Act was available as a tool for the Government to acquire land for the hospital, but Health Minister David Clark said at May's hospital announcement negotiation with landowners was his preferred option.
While Mondelez was a willing seller and the Ministry of Health a willing buyer, the speed with which a deal was done was very satisfying, Mr Hodgson said.
The former Cadbury site and staff car park constitute over half the land needed for the new hospital; the remaining land - containing Wilson Parking, a University of Otago Hostel and other businesses - is still to be secured
"Negotiations are continuing with the eight owners of land in the so-called `Wilsons' block,'' Mr Hodgson said.
"That has to proceed at a pace determined by law, and that includes a three-month period of discussion and valuation and owners deciding whether or not they are prepared to accept the price offered to them, and that doesn't involve me or the Ministry of Health.''
A period of adjustment for those owners was understandable, and they would be rightly considering their options, Mr Hodgson said.
Following decommissioning work, the Ministry of Health will take over the Cadbury site in November this year. Geotechnical surveying is one of the first tasks required.
Mr Hodgson has previously said it was intended that would be one of the first contracts tendered, and work could not be progressed on that until all the hospital sites were owned and access was available to them.
Mr Hodgson said yesterday that earlier access to the site before the November 1 settlement date would be "quietly explored''.
"Even if we do have to wait until November 1, it's still pretty early so far as the whole project is concerned, so it's very encouraging.''
The first phase of the detailed business case for the new hospital is due to be completed in the middle of this year.