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A plan showing the Lakes District Hospital being moved from its Frankton location to make way for a new vehicle, pedestrian and cycle link has come as an unwelcome surprise to the hospital’s owner, the Southern District Health Board (SDHB).
The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday unanimously endorsed the Frankton masterplan and integrated transport programme business case which councillors and council planners have been working on since 2017.
The masterplan contains almost 50 references to the hospital, mostly related to the need for it to move "outside the Queenstown Airport noise contours", though there is no mention of a new location.
Mayor Jim Boult told the meeting he had heard from the SDHB, which was "unhappy" about the idea of moving and wanted to be consulted.
That was backed up by a statement to the Otago Daily Times from SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming.
Mr Fleming acknowledged the council had "raised questions" about whether the current hospital site was the "best long-term location for a hospital".
"While we are happy to discuss this as part of considering the future of health and other infrastructure needs for the community, we have not formally discussed or endorsed any particular options.
"We have no intention to move from our current site in the foreseeable future, and note that any such relocation would require considerable planning."
One part of the masterplan notes relocating or reconfiguring the hospital and St John’s Ambulance site was a "medium-term" option occurring in 2024-28.
It would allow for a new "lake link" road providing better connections between Frankton commercial and residential areas and Lake Wakatipu.
In the masterplan’s "action plan schedule", investigating the potential long term relocation of the hospital is listed as a short-term (0-5 years) objective.
The masterplan, authorised by property and infrastructure general manager Pete Hansby, summarised public feedback.
"Generally supportive of relocating the Lakes District Hospital in the long term but needing significant planning and understanding of what a new facility would be and its function in the region’s health facilities and services matrix."
It was proposed to "undertake further engagement" with the SDHB and other stakeholders.
The site of the 21-bed hospital was chosen by the Otago Provincial Council in 1863 as being more central to the district than a location in Queenstown.