Residents have sounded a dire warning over a "critical" shortage of parking at Bulli hospital, telling local MP and state health minister Ryan Park it is only a matter of time before the situation claims a life.
The Old Bulli Hospital Community Action Group met on Wednesday night after receiving the latest confirmation that Landcom, which now owns the old hospital site opposite, will not be incorporating public parking into its upcoming housing development.
Health minister Ryan Park fronted Wednesday's meeting armed with several short-medium term solutions, including a plan to squeeze another 13 spots into the existing car park, a proposal to make better use of a staff shuttle service that has been operating to Bulli Showground since July, and ideas around moving Bulli ambulance station to make way for parking spaces.
But residents were unmoved. Some shared recent observations from Hospital Road, including:
Landcom has yet to lodge a development application for the old hospital site but is progressing demolition works with plans of building 50-70 homes, at least 10 per cent of them set aside for affordable housing.
In a recent letter to Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart, Landcom said it could not incorporate extra parking spaces without decreasing the number of homes in the new development, due to "the size and steep slope of the location".
"Given the unprecedented housing crisis NSW is experiencing, Landcom is not considering reducing the number of homes on site to increasing parking," the letter stated.
"We understand that much of the parking concerns relate to the new Bulli Hospital and nearby on street parking which is the responsibility of the lllawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and Wollongong City Council respectively."
Residents say the old hospital had about 110 off-street car parking spaces for patients, visitors and staff, while the new larger one has 46 spaces.
They believe Landcom's new housing will exacerbate parking woes and want a moratorium on the development until the issue is resolved.
"This has gone past being just an issue - this is critical," the Old Bulli Hospital Community Action Group spokeswoman, Margaret Hutchinson, told Mr Park on Wednesday.
"This," she said, brandishing a picture of an injured woman walking Hospital Road roadway on August 30, "is critical".
"Someone's going to get killed ... and [as] somebody said at the last meeting, 'so will all of the ministers come to the funeral when the person gets killed?'.
"It could be a resident, could be a visitor, could be a patient.
"Short-term solutions are very welcome but ... this has become critical.
"When you became the minister for health, we had hope. And now ... I don't feel the same hope."
Mr Park responded: "You might not have hope with 13 spaces and that's OK, but I think you can see what I'm trying to do, which is use the levers that I'm responsible for in the cabinet, to try and solve and issue that, to be quite frank, should have been solved four years ago [when the hospital was built]."
"I could continue to argue with Landcom ... or I can actually start to think about things that I can do ... to alleviate the situation."
Residents heard Wollongong MP Paul Scully, the state's planning minister, had declined an invitation to the meeting.
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