The Manly community will lose its much-loved local hospital when the new Northern Beaches Hospital opens in 2018. However the Manly Hospital site will not be sold off to private developers - it will be retained for community use. That's the promise from local MP and State Treasurer Mike Baird.
And the community will have a say on the future of the 7 hectare, hilltop site.
The Manly Hospital Community Advisory Group has been set up to facilitate community discussion, with group member Denise Keen kicking off the consultation process at recent local resident precinct meetings.
Speaking at Little Manly precinct meeting this week Ms Keen said that while nothing has been ruled in, some things have definitely been ruled out.
"We have no preconceived ideas about what happens on the Manly Hospital site," Ms Keen said.
"But there will not be a hospital or a trauma centre on the site. That's not going to happen. And we are not selling it off to developers."
She said ideas put forward so far include mental health facilities, a wellbeing centre, a rehabilitation centre, affordable housing, aged care facilities and a centre for terminally-ill children currently being cared for at Bear Cottage, but who are obliged to leave once they turn 18.
Suggestions from the precinct meeting included moving the Royal Far West Children's Home up to the hospital site, and handing hospital land between the cliff line and Collins Beach back to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Other options include attracting innovation to the site, particularly information technology, or a village-style development with restaurants and cafes. All the buildings on the site, except those with heritage listing, are slated for demolition, meaning purpose-built facilities can be built once the site's future has been resolved.
Local member Mike Baird has said he favours, but is not committed to, building aged care facilities, and disability service provider Sunnyfield has already expressed interest in the site. The advisory group, which had its first meeting late last year, aims to engage the broad Manly community in the discussion and identify two or three options to put before the state government.
The group is chaired by Kathryn Ridge of Ridge legal. Members include representatives from Manly Council, Manly Community Centre, Salvation Army, HEAL Northern Beaches, Manly Hospital Auxiliary, Just Better Care and Manly Chamber of Commerce, as well as Manly MP Mike Baird and community members Judith Burgess, Anne Lanham, Robert McKenzie and Denise Keen.
The Little Manly precinct meeting also discussed the Northern Beaches Hospital redevelopment project after hearing speakers for and against the project.
The new Level 5 hospital is progressing at the Frenchs Forest site, despite ongoing concerns about traffic congestion and the destruction of rare bushland and vital wildlife corridors.
Dr Michele Franks, Director of Emergency Medicine at Manly Hospital and Clinician Lead on the Northern Beaches Redevelopment Project said there was no doubt the Northern Beaches needed a new high-level hospital.
She said the current set up of two small hospitals - one here at Manly, the other at Mona Vale - meant medical services were split up and complex treatments were not able to be provided. She said the new Northern Beaches Hospital would have a total of 420 beds, of which at least 250 would be public - a big increase from the present situation of Manly and Mona Vale providing a total of 250 beds, of which 170 are public.
Responding to community concerns about the lack of emergency medical facilities in Manly after 2018, Mr Baird has suggested a 24-hour GP clinic at Queenscliff, which would at least provide treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.
More information about the Manly Hospital site and the advisory group is at mikebaird.com.au/mhcag Residents can email the group via firstname.lastname@example.org
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.