The Mid Mountains is getting a boost in services, with a $2.3 million paediatric seven-day-a-week clinic proposed for Lawson.
Ward 2 councillors, Chris Van der Kley and Romola Hollywood, supported the project which was approved by the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel on July 23. They say it will bring a much needed “one stop shop” of children’s medical specialists to the region, saving an unnecessary trip off the Mountains.
Council agreed to sell the large block of land at 3-7 Loftus Street to Dr Arman Babajanyan via the Babajanyan Family Trust. Dr Babajanyan, is the Head of Paediatrics at Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital, and also has a private practice in Katoomba.
“The doctor approached me about two years ago and me and the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise got involved to support him… council gave him support for the DA,” Cr Van der Kley said.
“It was a good outcome. When we redeveloped Lawson, part of the plan was to bring other services to the Mid Mountains and this fits this criteria. It put to use council land that was just sitting idle.”
The development application shows the centre will have 10 consulting rooms (including a dentist), two treatment rooms, as well as a pharmacy and an x-ray area built on the site.
The 2230 square metre site is next to the railway station and has space for 30 cars. The heritage-listed 1925 electricity sub-station close to the road will remain and become a waiting room in the new building.
Concerns were expressed in 2016 that the land, zoned medium density and next to the council family day care centre and Lawson library, did not go to public tender and was decided in a confidential session at council.
Cr Hollywood said the land was surplus to council’s requirements and bushfire prone.
“Lawson is a very popular place for families to raise their children,” she said.
“Having access to a specialist centre facility like this is great for the whole of the Mountains. More and more the way in which the community and health services are being delivered is through a one-stop shop to try to get greater collaboration.”
Greens Councillor Brent Hoare said at the time the sale process had “less than the optimal level of transparency,” adding it was “outrageous that local government has since been stripped of our planning powers by the Liberal State Government to consider development applications like this one”.
Cr Hoare told the Gazette this week although it was “great that Lawson was getting more much-needed services” he said that he would have liked to have been able to consider the merits of the project at a Blue Mountains council meeting, and hoped to see local government’s planning powers restored following the State election in March.
Crs Hollywood and Van der Kley said they too would like to see planning decisions made by the local government.
A council spokeswoman said “councils are not required to go to the open market for the sale of operational land in accordance with the Local Government Act ...[or] if council believes the outcome is the best and highest use of the land and that it has established a fair value, and is in the best long-term interests of the community.”