Hospital site speculation rife

Speculation is rife about where Dunedin's new hospital will be built.

The Otago Daily Times called business and property owners on the five main blocks of flat land between the Octagon and the existing hospital yesterday.

Most spoken to thought it would make sense for the new hospital to be built on the soon-to-be vacated Cadbury factory and warehouse, and in conjunction with the adjacent Wilson parking building across the road, while possibly including more of that central city block bounded by Cumberland, Hanover, Castle and St Andrews Sts.

The area between the Octagon and the existing hospital has been identified by the chairman of the committee co-ordinating the rebuild, Pete Hodgson.

Mr Hodgson has previously said the new hospital could ''be built over streets''.

None of those spoken to had been approached by anyone about the new hospital going on their sites.

All blocks in the area are inhabited by multiple businesses on what is some of the city's most expensive real estate.

Wherever the hospital is built, it is possible land will have to be taken under the Public Works Act, potentially leaving owners and the Government to thrash out compensation while building went on.

Murray Frame is part-owner of Frames Footwear, in a block bordered by Castle, Hanover, Leith and St Andrews Sts. This block is largely already owned by the Southern District Health Board and is also home to the Dunedin Central Fire Station.

Mr Frame said he had not been approached about the seizure of his shoe-shop for a new hospital, and reckoned the location of the new site was a no-brainer.

''It's gotta be Cadbury's. Tony wouldn't like that [if it was in their block],'' he added, referring to Advance Equipment Supplies director Tony Guy's plans to expand his offices, located in the same block as Frames.

Mr Guy's sense of civic duty overcame any concern the new hospital might foil his expansion plans.

''I'd never stand in the way, even if it took the whole block.

''We need to keep the hospital close [to town] for the medical school.''

Two blocks east, New World owner Foodstuffs (South Island) Ltd said it had no comment to make on the issue. A store manager earlier said she had heard nothing of the supermarket site being used for the new hospital.

If Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan knew the site of the rebuild, he was playing his cards close to his chest yesterday.

He did not have a preference, and said he was just glad it would be located in the city's heart.

Construction management specialist Ian McKie, director of Naylor Love Dunedin, said the easiest way to procure land would have been to agree to buy large areas from a small number of owners in advance while keeping the whole procurement process absolutely as low-key as possible.

''The smart thing to do would be to buy land in advance and tie up the owners with confidentiality agreements.''

Mr McKie said negotiating the sale of a couple of big chunks of land well ahead of the design and build process getting under way would be much easier than using the Public Works Act to seize a greater number of smaller sections, which would be more complicated and potentially more costly.

On that basis, a good candidate for the new hospital was the site of the old Cadbury factory and the Wilson Parking building.

In terms of the technical building challenges, a new hospital in the middle of the city would not be easy, Mr McKie said.

''The scale will make it challenging.''

But he did not think it should be much more disruptive to life in the city than the construction of the new Dental School and Animal Research facility under way nearby. A Dunedin-based geotechnical engineer, who did not want to be identified, said the land between the Octagon and the Hospital was ''not massively challenging'' to build on.

''The surface soils are a bit variable, with some gravel and fill, but 4m-5m down you hit some fairly solid ground.''

The area chosen was well-understood by local consultants and contractors, and was easier to build on than the reclaimed land closer to the harbour, he said.

One potential issue with using the Cadbury factory itself is that it features four category-2 historic listed buildings, with an Art Deco facade extending along Cumberland St.

Heritage New Zealand area manager Otago Southland Jonathan Howard said the Southern Partnership Group overseeing the rebuild would need to follow the district plan and would not have free reign to tear down historic buildings.

But, he said, it should be straightforward to adapt the heritage facade into any new hospital.

''We'd be hoping to work with them to incorporate as much heritage as possible.''

What is the Public Works Act?

The Public Works Act is a trump card the Crown and local authorities can use to acquire land for public work.

It is commonly employed to obtain properties for roads, power stations and other infrastructure projects such as Dunedin’s new hospital.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said the Crown would negotiate with the property owner before offering an amount based on market value calculated by a third party.

While owners had recourse to appeal to the Environment Court and an owner might be awarded more money, in the end the Crown would get the land, he said.

Mr Geddis said public good infrastructure projects like the new hospital were exactly what the Public Works Act was designed for.

‘‘It subjugates the private interest for the public good. The Act is there to stop bolshie land owners slowing things down.’’

george.block@odt.co.nz

Comments

Good morning readers. As a designer who had considerable input into Christchurch, Burwood, Priness Margaret and Ashburton Hospitals over the years my comments are:
1. Retain the main site as core site. Extend onto adjacents only as necessary. That saves tens of millions on land cost.
2. The risk block is psychology bounding Cumberlansd as it is unreinfroced masonry.
3. ED and clinical services are partial quake risk, asbestos problems and lack of maintenance,.
4. Tear down psych an replace with new clinical services/ED Cumberland St frontage 80% of length say 4-6 storey
5. Exist ward block may be steel braced and column encased, OR totally replace down east side of site full length
6. See next comment I am near out of words for this

Dshop continuing:
7. Heating by deep ground source tied to foundations.....did this for my 5 star hotel in Moray Place. PMH in Chch did hot water storage bulk system from off peak power .....still going strong......36 hour reserve held for power cutoff (not likely if we use ground source heat pumps) THIS DOESNT REQUIRE ANY ORGANIC MATERIAL BURNING
8. Structure steel frame on isolating pads (Chch womens block) and joints that articulate.
9. Lightweight clad with color coated metal panels as I proposed for my Moray Pl hotel.....that minimises quake load and allows easy replacement of panels
9. Design for clear open spans and deep ceilings for maximum flexibility in layout.
10. Close off Hanover between the one ways to form new bi-directional entry, That means Gt King St north of Hanover Dental etc can be integrated into one campus
11. Provide decent parking.....its not hard to do if we do all the above....and turn Gt King to 90deg park slow road
12. For satellite departments there are already bridges across 1 way streets and there is a lot of flexibility repurposing existing buildings
13 Services building in centre of present block replacing exist aircons and parking

Sorry its Dshop again just to summarise benefits:
1. Minimal purchase of new land.....use what we have and save millions
2. Its not difficult to maintain exist hospital dung rebuild....I have done this
3. Create new hospital one site campus incl Dental, Medical etc etc
4. Class 1 building easily acheived (ie essential buildings) with low maintenance, high quake resistance, green heating, water recycle, roof gardens.....partial green walls etc
5. Flexible layout to alter for changing medical needs
6. PLenty of parking, access to buses, easy ambulance access
7. Minimal town planning/rescon to hold up progress......Cadburys taken out of equation
8. I have already done Dunedin concepts for what is now known as Forsythe Barr, and also 5 star hotel in Moray Pl

If sufficient interest I can do a quick sketch based on a quick summary of brief.....any takers???????

As long as the construction is AWAY from the state highway, I can imagine grid lock for a fair chunk of the day.

DSHOP I'm afraid there are too many parties involved for whom lining up their pockets is number 1 priority in this rebuild. They already wasted countless millions on creating illusion of meaningful work plus cost of deterioration of current hospital. Now few tens of millions for site purchase look negligible comparing to ever growing estimated cost (started at $300 millions and how much is latest estimate? was it $1.6 billion?)

I don't want to be pessimistic but my gut feeling that hospital will be built in most expensive and inefficient way possible. It will cost above 1.6 billions, it will be heated by wood or coal, there will be zero parking, quality and safety of buildings will prompt another rebuild in 50 or 60 years etc.
The ease and confidence and in depth details of your comments from somebody who knows their business and can sketch on the back of an envelope a plan that is very likely better than what they have so far, only reinforce my belief that we're all just helplessly watching money laundering at colossal scale.
Disclaimer: it's just my impression as a bystander. I don't have any insider info.