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High Density Development Proposal for St Vincent’s Private Hospital at Kangaroo Point

St Vincent’s Private Hospital at Kangaroo Point is applying for council approval to develop large residential high rise towers on their hospital site. 

Even if you don’t live around this part of Kangaroo Point, this might still be interesting to you, as it has traffic ramifications for Main St and the Story Bridge. 

Generally speaking, there can be some good arguments for co-locating housing and hospital land uses, but it’s still important to look closely at the detail of what’s proposed with this particular site and think through how that does or does not meet the planning goals and needs of the surrounding precinct.

The hospital is claiming that their proposal is “in keeping with Council’s planning regulations” which isn’t strictly correct. This site has long been identified and zoned as being for ‘community facilities.’ In fact, I understand that’s the basis on which this valuable inner-city riverfront land was originally donated to St Vincent’s (for free) in the 1940s. High-density private housing is not ordinarily permitted on ‘Community Facilities’ land.

Most other sites to the north and east of St Vincent’s are already zoned for high-density residential, and if expert urban planners though it was desirable to include more residential housing on the hospital site itself, either the council or the state government could have zoned for that accordingly.

Personally, I would like to see part of this site returned to public ownership as public parkland. If St Vincent’s doesn’t need the whole site for actual hospital buildings, that’s probably the best outcome in terms of the broader public interest. Kangaroo Point is undergoing a lot of high-density development, and St Vincent’s is one of the last remaining larger sites where it would be possible to deliver a new public park. If some housing IS to be developed on this site, it should be public housing that’s affordable for people on low incomes, not luxury riverfront apartments targeted at wealthier residents.

The current development application is ‘Preliminary Approval’ which locks in building heights and footprints without any detail of how the buildings will be used or designed. This means the developers could get approval to build up to 19 storeys without providing concrete information on how the buildings will actually look or how they’ll integrate with the surrounding neighbourhood. My big concern about high-end apartments (as opposed to aged care hospital patient accommodation, or affordable housing for low-income pensioners) is that the developers will almost certainly want to build a lot of extra carparking to sell with the new apartments. But this is not a good site to be introducing hundreds of additional cars on.

Ideally, inner-city residential development projects should be largely car-free. We want inner-city residents to walk, ride and catch public transport (and we want developers to contribute their fair share towards the cost of public transport infrastructure and services, which are sadly lacking in Kangaroo Point). We certainly don’t want hundreds of extra cars driving in and out of this particular site, because it would choke up the Main Street northbound approach to the Story Bridge. I think what we actually need along this stretch of Main Street is some separated bike lanes so that fast-moving e-scooters aren't sharing the path with pedestrians, and a dedicated bus lane so buses don't get caught in general traffic.

You can view the plans and documents for the development and make a submission to oppose via this link.

I hope people will take the opportunity to make their voices heard, and ask for public parkland rather than more cars.

Content adapted from this post.

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