Hospital groundworks consent decision brought forward

The project to build Dunedin’s new hospital could receive a festive fillip, after the independent panel considering the first stage of its consent application moved its decision deadline forward to on or before Christmas Eve.

The panel had extended its deliberations into February after it made a late invitation to the University of Otago to comment on the Ministry of Health’s consent application, which is being considered under Covid-19 fast-track provisions.

However, the university replied to the panel almost immediately, and the ministry’s response to that was also received quickly, which panel chairman Judge Laurie Newhook said meant the panel could revise the timeline to release its final decision.

The panel is only considering consents for the groundworks and foundations for the $1.47 billion project - a separate application for the two main hospital buildings and ancillary structures will be lodged next year.

The university was invited to comment as its Te Rangi Hiroa residential college sits next to where the hospital will be built.

"The university believes that noise will cause annoyance to our students trying to study, especially during mid-year or end of year exam time," it said in its response.

"The construction of the new Dunedin hospital could directly adversely affect the university’s Te Rangi Hiroa residential college if it is not managed carefully and appropriately."

The university was "generally supportive" of the new hospital but wanted to be kept informed of potential issues which could affect Te Rangi Hiroa.

It also asked that the college be specifically identified as a building for which mitigation measures for the management of noise will be required, including a noise and vibration management plan being put in place before work started on the site.

The panel also released a draft of potential conditions which could be imposed should consent be granted.

Those included an assessment of whether the state highways next to the site could withstand vibrations, stronger communication procedures with neighbouring properties, revamped procedures to manage any complaints about dust and sediment, all reports to detail how nearby heritage buildings will not be adversely affected by groundworks and substantial traffic management plans.

There were also additional proposed conditions relating to any archaeological discoveries.

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