Car parking bound up in many issues

An artist’s concept drawings of what the new Dunedin Hospital might look like. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
An artist’s concept drawings of what the new Dunedin Hospital might look like. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Parking for the new Dunedin Hospital has been a hot topic of debate. Southern District Health Board chairman  Pete Hodgson  offers a personal opinion on the parking issue, as well as other hospital matters.

The public often asks what parking facilities are proposed for the new hospital. This article will not provide an answer, but it will explain the context, the timeline and the next steps.

Design for both the outpatients and inpatients buildings is proceeding pretty well. The outpatients building is due to open in three years and seven months, and the inpatients building three years and three months after that. Demolition is progressing for all to see, as is back-room activity like resource consent applications. Both buildings will abut St Andrew St: the outpatients on the ‘‘Wilsons’’ block to the north and the inpatients on the ‘‘Cadburys’’ block to the south.

But the new campus will be a good deal more than two buildings, and our health system is plenty more than just hospital buildings. A lot needs to be done throughout our region, and a great deal of it is to do with changes to primary and community care, changes to the way services are delivered in the new facility, and information technology which enables the whole lot to hang together.

In the immediate vicinity of the two main buildings, there is much going on. Engineering plant will be located near Bow Lane, across Castle St from the inpatients building, as might some car parking. An interprofessional learning centre is being built immediately to the north of the outpatients building. Used jointly by the DHB, the polytech and the university, it will modernise health science learning and cement Dunedin’s place as New Zealand’s premier health science education city. Next door, a proposed translational research centre will house clinical research and the university staff that undertake it. In a couple of decades, the Southern Blood and Cancer Service building will be replaced. It will be sited so inpatients can be transferred for treatment without needing vehicle transport.

There is more. A whanau/family centre is being contemplated for out of town folk, perhaps using some floors of the existing Te Rangi Hiroa building. There is the possibility of some acute mental health beds shifting on site from Wakari, though that review has yet to report. We must allow for utilities, for landscaping, for people to walk freely from one facility to another, for future expansion and for changes in how health is delivered.

Interwoven in all this is car parking. The current ward block and clinical services block have only 101 car parks, most of which are for staff. Most patients and staff find their parking elsewhere. We want to do better than that in the new hospital, for two main reasons. People who come to hospital by car are often compromised in some way, so facilitating parking makes good sense. Secondly, staff security matters, especially for those who begin or finish work in the late evening. Parking for those who are building the hospital is an additional issue for the next few years.

There are also multiple solutions. Some don’t involve car parking at all, such as secure bike facilities and park and ride (there is already a hospital staff shuttle between Wakari and Dunedin hospitals). One day autonomous vehicles will be with us and they shouldn’t need any nearby parking. However, we will also need car parks. So, who will provide them and where?

Some private sector developers are already expressing interest. But they must be adequately profitable. The DCC provides nearby all-day ground level parking so inexpensively that a competing car park builder cannot cover their costs. There are two ways through this conundrum. One is for the DCC to raise fees. The second is for the DHB to underwrite some floors for staff use.

The DHB can, of course, provide its own car parks and that may well be guided by resource consent considerations. Thirdly, the DHB could hire some nearby existing car parks, such as those owned by the DCC that are underutilised.

Right now, we are about to develop a more detailed master site plan for the new campus, in close conjunction with Ngai Tahu, the university, polytech, DCC, ORC and others. I expect it might take maybe 20 weeks, and car parking options will take form as we go. The university made its substantial draft plan public recently and now it is time for the DHB to reciprocate. There is much at stake. We want to secure good porous adjacency between health education and health provision. Those links are the heart of Dunedin’s economic and social future and we must get them right.

Key players have been engaged in these plans for a while now. We now have a well-situated and well-proportioned hospital. But we have many other balls in the air as well. Each of these balls must be pulled out of the air in a deliberate and timely way. If we stuff it up we will have to undo plans and redesign.

I urge letter writers, councillors, commentators and others to refrain from a unidimensional focus on car parking. All will become clear in good time, certainly before the DHB winds up a year from now.

Comments

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Build it and they will come...but don't focus on "unidimensional" issues like parking. Hmmm...seems to me that parking (specifically the lack of) is going to be a real issue. The brain trust doesn't seem to have thought the issue through, to be honest. I'm sure the plan will evolve into a DCC/ORC plan based upon logical premises. I expect a joint press conference led by Hawkins stating: The logical solution is to give the existing parking to employees. Patients and employees can utilize the parking at the Dunedin airport and pay a nominal fee to bus in for surgery and visitation.
Don't be surprised to see a solution capitalizing on the DCC owned railway. Park in Middlemarch and ride the train to the hospital.
They have no idea what to do about parking. Their focus is on building the hospital and then figure out how people will access it. Regardless, expect the solution to be inconvenient, illogical and costly.

"I urge letter writers, councillors, commentators and others to refrain from a unidimensional focus on car parking."

Ha ha, good luck with that Pete, the city is full of carpark-obsessed people with nothing better to do than complain.

Best of luck though and I look forward to seeing the proposed solutions in due course.

The left certainly do not like criticism of their peers do they?

Can anyone tell me where the term ‘porous adjacency’ might have come from? The time spent cooking up intellectual sounding waffle might be better spent solving the parking issue perhaps.

"I urge letter writers, councillors, commentators and others to refrain from a unidimensional focus on car parking"
How about commenting on mobility around the city for the population when we are healthy? Is that OK?
Then there is the access to the last remaining stretch of retail shopping on George St from the Octagon to Knox Church. Is it OK to comment on that?
What about the loss of commercially rateable real estate. Is it OK to ask where the ever increasing proportion of non rateable government building will fall on the residence?
I read yesterday that a new Chinese vaccine will be first trialed here because "... it had a good health system, had a compliant population and could produce high quality research data ...".
It's the "compliant population" portion that concerns me.
A totalitarian communist country sees NZers as "compliant" yet our elected DHB chairman wants even more 'self control and censorship'!!!
The lie that we are a democratic country that emphasises free speech and open access media to engage with our elected representatives is becoming all too apparent!
The unidimensional focus is not ours!
How revolting must the peasants get before you engage?

All too true. The underhand working of this government is very worrying and they certainly don't like criticism.

Oh deary me...

"There are also multiple solutions...such as secure bike facilities and park and ride."
Mr Hodgson appears to be unaware that most people who are attending hospital are compromised - how does one ride a bike with a broken leg?

"One day autonomous vehicles will be with us and they shouldn’t need any nearby parking."
No comment necessary on this one between now and 'one day'.

"Some private sector developers are already expressing interest. But they must be adequately profitable. The DCC provides nearby all-day ground level parking so inexpensively that a competing car park builder cannot cover their costs. There are two ways through this conundrum. One is for the DCC to raise fees. The second is for the DHB to underwrite some (private?) floors for staff use".

There is a third way: the hospital plan includes adequate parking facilities supplied at cost as part of its architecture - a profit-free component of the 'business plan'. It may surprise Mr Hodgson, but there is no MUST for private profit here.

There is no clause in Adam's will that guarantees private profit from public suffering.

Or is there in now NZ?

I expect better of Mr Hodgson.

Rob Hamlin: Any ‘profit-free’ car parking which is publicly paid for amounts to a subsidy for car users. Parking is not a public good. So why shouldn’t the market decide?

Head in the clouds? It is foolish to think that self driving cars will improve the parking situation in Dunedin. If you were to replace the current fleet of personal vehicles with self driving cars traffic issues will still remain, lack of parking will still remain. Pete Hodgson is your crystal ball clear enough to show how fast the public will take up self driving cars? Or when the technology will mature enough to be safe? It took 30+ years for the cellular phone to take off in the late 2000's.

It is quite incredible that various freeloaders have spent 2 years being paid to formulate plans and ideas for the new hospital. Only now is another group of thinkers going to begin developing a master plan for the area. What have the bludgers been doing to justify their hansome incomes for the past 2 years?

Meanwhile Mr Hodgson is somehow deluded enough to think autonomous cars will be flitting past his front door any day now. Yeah, autonomous cars may occur some time, but more likely to be in time for this hospitals replacement rather than an excuse to ignore todays parking issues.

To suggest a park and ride facility from Wakari hospital to the central hospital is just plan idiotic. I really question how planning for the entire SDHB is going when leaders are so deluded. Need maternity service in Queenstown, maybe use a robot controlled by the health department in Auckland. That should work ok....

Sadly, Hodgson has just proved he is living in cloud cuckoo land. All this about parking (and the planning in general) has to be squeezed out in dribs and drabs. It shows a poor level of leadership and reflects the track record of this administration; make it up as you go along, pretend this is what was intended and create spin like a top. Bit like the covid vax - set a low target and then you can hit it!

Hodgson's advisors: The peasants are revolting.
Hodgson: Yes, they are appalling and I do wish they wouldn't ask hard questions.

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