Save Middle Head from Developer

By Linda Bergin OAM

Like me you probably only recently heard about plans for the construction of a large new aged-care facility on Middle Head (Headland Park, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust). A small news story appeared in the Mosman Daily on 14 November 2013.

I was one of the founders of the Headland Preservation Group, which back in 1996-2001 successfully prevented the sale of Middle Head and Georges Heights, and assisted in the subsequent creation of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Since that time, the Trust has done outstanding work creating the original community vision which was “a new national park for all Australians”. The community is very appreciative of their achievements.

So therefore I was astonished to learn about this proposal, which in my opinion will be very damaging to the natural and cultural heritage of Middle Head and contrary to the Objects of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act.

It is also the first time a NEW development (rather than an adaptive reuse) would occur. This would create a dangerous precedent going into the future.

While I understand the urgent need for more aged-care facilities in the community, a new one of such a very large scale, with an estimated construction cost of $33 million should not be located on Middle Head.

I urge you to oppose this proposal. The deadline for public comment is 4 December 2013.

Key points:

  • Large-scale new development on Middle Head Road
  • Demolition of existing historic buildings
  • Excavation for large car park
  • No tenders or expressions of interest
  • 24/7 operations
  • Dangerous precedent for new development in Headland Park
  • Destruction of approach to Sydney Harbour National Park
  • Loss of views from Middle Head

Questions we would like answers to:

Commercial Arrangements

  • Is there and in-principle terms offer from the proponent?
  • Is there a heads of agreement?
  • Is there a draft lease? If so what are the terms of the draft lease and how will the Trust’s revenue
  • be received (lump sum, rent, % of profits).
  • What is the term of the lease and is there an option to renew?
  • What happens at the end of the lease?

Proponent

  • When was Middle Head Health Care Pty Ltd (MHHC) established and who are the shareholders?
  • What is the track record of MHHC
    • How many facilities constructed and managed?
    • Where?
  • Does MHHC operate from a home in Bellevue Hill?
  • What other locations has MHHC considered besides Middle Head?

Development

  • Could the development be sold to another developer/operator?
  • Is the use restricted to aged-care?
  • Does the Trust believe the proposed development accords with the Objects of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act in particular (c) maximising public access, given that this is a private residential development?

The objects of the Trust are the following:

  • to ensure that management of Trust land contributes to enhancing the amenity of the Sydney Harbour region;
  • to protect, conserve and interpret the environmental and heritage values of Trust land;
  • to maximise public access to Trust land;
  • to establish and manage suitable Trust land as a park on behalf of the Commonwealth as the national government;
  • to co-operate with other Commonwealth bodies that have a connection with any Harbour land in managing that land;
  • to co-operate with New South Wales, affected councils and the community in furthering the above objects.

Process

  • What other proposals has the Trust received for 10 Terminal?
  • Who introduced MHHC to the Trust? When?
  • According to the Board minutes, the Trust was in discussions with Continuing Health Care, not MHHC, what is the relationship between the 2 and is there a commercial arrangement with Continuing Health Care?
  • Is Continuing Health Care a company or just a business name?
  • How long has the Trust been in discussions with MHHC?
  • Has the Trust contributed to the costs of MHHC’s proposal? If so how much?
  • What are the Trust’s financial and legal liabilities if the proposal is rejected?
  • What consideration will be given by the Trust to submissions from stakeholders and the public?
  • Who has final responsibility for the approval of the amended Management Plan and the MHHC proposal?
  • Has the local member Tony Abbott been involved in discussions?
  • Has the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt’s office been involved in discussions?

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