Ministry to seek new Dunedin Hospital consent through COVID-19 legislation

The Ministry of Health has submitted an application to use the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast Track Consenting) Act 2020 to secure early consent for the construction of the new Dunedin Hospital.

Programme Director Mike Barns says while the team is confident consent under the Resource Management Act would be granted, the new COVID-19 Recovery Act provides a shorter timeline to achieve this.

“It’s important we have certainty on the construction timeframes for the new Dunedin Hospital,” says Mike Barns.

“We’ve discussed the option of using the COVID-19 Recovery Act with the Dunedin City Council, and they understand and support the need to use the fast track process.

“We want people in Dunedin and the Southern region to have confidence in the project remaining on track, with Outpatients due to open in 2025 followed by Inpatients in 2028.

“We’re committed to delivering a fit for purpose, future ready hospital which will deliver better health outcomes for New Zealanders through improved health services and new models of care across the region.

“Having certainty on the construction timeframes will also help to maximise job opportunities as well as the wider benefits for local businesses. In the post COVID-19 environment, ensuring this economic stimulus happens is vital,” Mike Barns said.

The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast Track Consenting) Act provides a two stage approval process. Approval is required from the Minister for the Environment, who will take on board the views from interested parties, including local authorities and iwi.

The application is then referred to an expert consenting panel to determine whether to grant consent. Membership of the panel must include one member nominated by the local Council and one by local iwi. In addition, the panel will consider views from a range of groups, including business, environmental and heritage organisations.

The decision on whether to refer the new Dunedin Hospital project to an expert consenting panel is expected to be made in the first quarter of 2021.

While the Act provides a more streamlined consenting process, this does not mean a shortcut in environmental standards. The sustainable management of natural and physical resources remains a key factor.

“The Dunedin Hospital project continues to make good progress. Last week, consent was granted to demolish the Cadbury factory buildings,” says Mike Barns.

“Next week, concept design is expected to receive final approval and the team will be going to market for the early contractor engagement for the Inpatients Building.”

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