Storm of criticism over plans to demolish Hotham House at Kirrawee so car park can be built

The owner of President Private Hospital is offering no comment in response to a storm of criticism over the company’s proposal to demolish a historic house at Kirrawee to make a car park.

”Generally our policy is not to comment to the media and I am advised in this instance that is the case,” the Leader was told when comment was requested from Macquarie Health Corporation.

Hotham House, as it is known, will be replaced by a car park under a development application (DA) to expand and upgrade the rehabilitation hospital.

The well preserved Federation house, in Hotham Road, was built in 1912 and stood in the middle of Hotham Poultry Farm, which was at the time the biggest in the state, with about 6000 laying hens.

It is part of the hospital campus, and the former ballroom in the house is used as a rehab gym.

The Leader’s online report on Wednesday led to dozens of protest comments, and other media have picked up the story.

Comments on the Leader Facebook page included:

  • Oh no, they shouldn’t be allowed to do that - soon all the character will be gone from the shire to be replaced by a concrete jungle.
  • You have to be kidding ? They are demolishing this wonderful old home for a car park?. Just goes to show what idiots are in charge and that make these decisions.
  • Would it be better to preserve this building and repurpose it as part of the health facility?. Say, as an out patient clinic and consultation rooms and tell the story of its rich history while people are waiting to see their medical providers? 
  • After the brick pit fiasco allowing 800 plus units to be built let's hope the council will see sense and not allow this historical part of the shire to be destroyed.
  • They're kidding, I recall seeing this little gem years ago as I tended a medical facility & wondered how come it's still standing. No no no. Surely we're not this desperate for land. As said in a prior comment, turn it into a consultancy rooms.

Kirrawee resident James Hester, in a submission on the DA, said while the statement of environmental effects espoused the positive benefit of improved car parking for access to healthcare for an increasingly ageing society, nowhere was the negative impact of removal of a historic building discussed or justified.

“The hospital has open to it demolition of one or more of the three other buildings on the site to make way for a car park, provided rezoning is approved by council,” he said.

“Justification for choosing the most beautiful building on site is not provided.”

Mr Hester said , “Just because a building has been left off a heritage register does not automatically mean it has no heritage significance”.

“The provision of better car parking at the cost of removing a historic building can in no way be seen to increase the significance of the area,” he said.

“It just improves car parking. Indeed, by replacing a unique building with a generic car park it lowers the cultural and historical significance of the area.

“The proposal does not involve an increase in the overall facilities provided by the hospital, it just demolishes one rehabilitation area for a car park, with rehabilitation facilities replaced by other construction.

“Thus there is no positive impact in terms of increased healthcare.

“The only positive impact is in removing parking congestion on Hotham Road.

“There is a clear negative impact in terms of visual amenity for commuters and residents.

“Furthermore, I would expect that elderly patients find rehabilitation in the historic dance hall of 65 Hotham Road with its beautiful windows rather more pleasant than in a modern, generic facility.”

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