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News of inner-city site for new Dunedin Hospital welcomed

Friday 4 May 2018 1:29pm

These indicative plans show two possible configurations of a hospital on the site. The design phase of the project has yet to start and the final layout of the new Dunedin Hospital may bear no relation to these plans. Images:

University of Otago leaders are pleased Cabinet has approved an inner-city Dunedin location with close proximity to the University precinct, on which to build the city’s new $1.2 to $1.4 billion hospital.

Health Minister and Dunedin North MP David Clark announced this morning that the new Dunedin Hospital will be built over two large sites; the old Cadbury chocolate factory site, and the block next door to the North which contains a Wilson’s carpark.

The new “Cadbury/Wilson” site does not include the Allied Press building, but it does include a Cadbury carpark over the road toward the Railway Station.

The site provides a large piece of land close to both the University and the current hospital as parts of the existing hospital, such as the oncology precinct, will be retained, Dr Clark says.

An artist’s impression of a new Dunedin Hospital.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Division of Health Sciences, Professor Peter Crampton, says the building site is close to other health related infrastructure such as the Dunedin School of Medicine and Otago Dental School.

It is also in close proximity to existing non-hospital-based health science-related teaching and research facilities.

“We see this as a unique opportunity to secure an exciting future for the health precinct area of Dunedin and the University,” Professor Crampton says.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the Otago Medical School is integral to the University and it has been keeping a watching brief on developments.

“We are absolutely delighted that the new Dunedin Hospital will be built in close proximity to the University,” Professor Hayne says.

“One of our key attractions is the fact the University is located so closely to the hospital and we are pleased this close relationship will continue.”

"We see this as a unique opportunity to secure an exciting future for the health precinct area of Dunedin and the University."

The University-owned Te Rangi Hiroa College, which is named after the University’s first Māori medical graduate, Te Rangi Hiroa, is located on the site. It caters for up to 120 full-time, first year students.

University of Otago Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis says the University will work collaboratively with the project team as they develop the master plan for the site to better understand the implications for the University residential college.

It is important to highlight that there will be no impact on students residing at the college this year, Mr Willis says.

In future, it could be that the hospital is developed around the college or that the building needs to be repurposed or even demolished to make way for the hospital.

If the building is no longer able to be used as a residential college, Mr Willis says the University will look to rebuild Te Rangi Hiroa College elsewhere, retaining its identity and name.

University of Otago Director, Māori development, Tuari Potiki, says Te Rangi Hiroa’s iwi, Ngāti Mutunga, have been informed of the announcement and potential implications for the existing college and Ngāti Mutunga is keen to be be involved in future plans for the college.

Dr Clark says the Cadbury site is up for sale and the project team is currently in negotiations with Mondelez. The site next door which houses Te Rangi Hiroa has eight owners and he acknowledges it may take some time to get through all the paperwork to purchase these properties.

The Crown will purchase the land under the Public Works Act which requires landowners be treated fairly and Dr Clark says the team is committed to ensuring this happens.

"The new site and building will encourage the whole health system to work together, enabling health professionals to train and work together as teams."

The new Dunedin Hospital is likely to be the largest building project in Dunedin’s history and at the peak of construction there will be up to 1,000 workers on site. It is estimated it will cost between $1.2 to $1.4 billion to develop the new hospital.

The Government has publicly committed to begin construction before the next election and completion is currently scheduled for mid-2026.

Now the site has been chosen, Dr Clark says the next process is completing a detailed business case by the middle of this year. At the same time, the project team is starting the detailed planning and design process.

The University has about 5000m2 of space in current hospital buildings including the Office of the Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine, clinical skills and teaching spaces and some of the academic departments of the Dunedin School of Medicine.

Dunedin School of Medicine Dean, Professor Barry Taylor, says the school is inextricably linked for its research and teaching with Dunedin Hospital.

“The new site and building will encourage the whole health system to work together, enabling health professionals to train and work together as teams,” Professor Taylor says.

Numerous University of Otago staff have been involved in detailed planning for the new hospital and now the site is confirmed, Professor Crampton says they are looking forward to being further involved with the master planning that will need to occur.