Meeting Date: Monday, 13 March, 2023
Location: Council Chambers, City Administrative Building, Bridge Road, Nowra
Membership (Quorum - 7)
CL23.87....... Addendum Report - Emergency Management Centre, 92 Albatross Road, Nowra - Requested Use of Helipad – Shoalhaven Hospital Redevelopment Project. 1
Addendum Agenda - Ordinary Meeting – Monday 13 March 2023
CL23.87 Addendum Report - Emergency Management Centre, 92 Albatross Road, Nowra - Requested Use of Helipad – Shoalhaven Hospital Redevelopment Project
HPERM Ref: D23/88340
Department: Strategic Planning
Approver: Carey McIntyre, Director - City Futures
Attachments: 1. Letter - Local Health District - Request Use - Existing EMC Helipad ⇩
2. Background - Previous Council Report Sept 22 - Temporary Hospital Helipad ⇩
Reason for Report
This matter is submitted as an addendum given the urgent need to find a temporary helipad for the hospital to use during the period of the major redevelopment work which is expected to commence shortly.
Council staff met with NSW Government representatives on 8 March 2023 and the attached written request (Attachment 1) was then received from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) after the close of the Business Paper requesting urgent assistance from Council regarding the possible use of the helipad at the Emergency Management Centre (EMC), 92 Albatross Road, Nowra.
1. Support ‘in principle’, the requested temporary use of the helipad at the Emergency Management Centre, 92 Albatross Road, Nowra associated with the Shoalhaven Hospital Redevelopment Project, subject to.
a. Appropriate operational procedures being put in place to manage access and use.
b. Clarification and conformation of the planning pathway.
c. Engagement with adjoining residents and establishment of a process to manage any future feedback received from neighbours, so that complaints or similar do not fall to Council or the Rural Fire Service to respond to.
1. As recommended.
Implications: This will enable the requested use to proceed subject to required considerations being resolved.
2. Alternate recommendation, not agreeing to the use of this site and requesting an alternate site be found.
Implications: An option of this nature may be problematic from both a time perspective and also the difficult that has already been encountered in attempting to find a temporary site.
Council previously considered a report on a possible temporary Helicopter Landing Site that is needed as part of the Shoalhaven Hospital Redevelopment Project and resolved on 26 September 2022 to give ‘in principle’ support to the possible use of part of West Street Oval, Nowra, noting the need for a development application and its outcome could not be predetermined. The attached Council report related to this resolution (Attachment 2) contains background information on the need for a temporary location during the hospital redevelopment project.
NSW Health Infrastructure (HI) has now advised that the identified site at West Street Oval has contamination issues and stability constraints. As a result, the attached letter requests (Attachment 1) the use of the EMC helipad and seeks Council’s urgent ‘in principle’ agreement in this regard.
The EMC at 92 Albatross Road, Nowra is owned by Council and is zoned SP2 Infrastructure (Emergency Services) under Shoalhaven Local Environmental Plan 2014.The EMC helipad was constructed as part of the overall masterplan for the facility and is currently predominantly used by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) during periods of emergency. The helipad that is the subject of this request is located with the site, see the following aerial photograph:
H = Helipad
HI have assessed the EMC helipad for use and advised as follows:
· Slab capacity – can accommodate the aeromedical helicopters based on a consultants assessment provided.
· Rotor Wash – there will not be any appreciable difference in downwash characteristics compared to the helicopters that already use the site. Local procedures will be needed to ensure no people are within the FATO (Final Approach and Take-off area) when a helicopter arrives.
· Noise – the aeromedical helicopters are quieter than the helicopters that already use the helipad.
· Senior Clinicians and the Executive of the Hospital have endorsed its possible use from a clinical perspective. NSW Ambulance Aeromedical Operations have also indicated they would endorse the site, noting it will be a temporary location and not a permanent arrangement.
Given that the proposed hospital redevelopment is proceeding and work will commence on site in earnest shortly, there is now a critical need to find a temporary helicopter landing site for a 3 to 4 year period. Considering the overriding community outcome being the need for patient safety, this needs to be as close to the existing hospital as practical.
Council staff have been working with HI on various reasonable options in this regard and the short term use of the EMC helipad has now been requested. When the new hospital is complete the use will cease as there will be a new permanent helipad on the roof of the new hospital building. The following are relevant considerations.
As the primary current user of the helipad, HI and its consultants have been engaging with the RFS who have advised they have no issue ‘in principle’ with the requested use.
However, some operational matters will need to be clarified, such as 24 hour access and HI covering costs of any infrastructure work to access points and similar that is agreed between HI, Council and EMC occupants.
RFS have also requested an assurance that the use of the facility does not impede on their operations, particularly the need for alternate landing locations or their good relationship with their neighbours. RFS believes these matters should not be difficult to overcome and will translate into a letter of agreement and a clear process of implementation should Council be ok with the matter proceeding further.
At present the EMC helipad is generally only used during periods of emergency and outside these times there is largely no use. As such adjacent residents have become accustomed to an intermittent level of use. As such any increase in use on a weekly basis could have an impact on these residents, particularly given the potential for night-time use in a medical emergency.
The previous report noted that the current landing site at the hospital receives approximately 7 helicopters per month and this has been reasonably consistent in recent years, however planning for approximately 10 helicopters per months would allow for an increase in future demand.
As part of their initial feedback to HI the RFS as the main occupant of the EMC have requested that a community engagement process be undertaken with neighbours and a workable solution developed for HI to handle future queries, issues etc. regarding its use and not to RFS personnel on site. Council should also not be required to handle any queries/issues the use generates.
Should Council support the request, potential amenity impacts will need to be fully considered as part of the proposed use. HI should thus ensure that the broader community and adjoining landowners/residents are aware of what is being proposed and that any concerns around noise, level of use etc. are considered and if possible managed.
The requested use of the helipad needs to also follow an appropriate planning approval pathway and these could generally include:
· Relying on the existing development consents that apply to the site.
· New development application for the requested use.
· Other pathways, for example through the Transport and Infrastructure SEPP.
Discussions are continuing to resolve which pathway the requested use will follow.
Given the overriding need to ensure patient safety and assist with the identification of a temporary helipad that is close to the hospital, it is recommended that Council provide its ‘in principle’ support for the use of the identified site at the EMC, subject to the satisfaction resolution of the operational, amenity and planning considerations noted in the report.
HI have been requested to carry out neighbour notification and engagement regarding the proposed use. They will also need to establish a process to manage any ongoing feedback that is received from neighbours should the use commence, so that any complaints or similar do not fall to Council or the RFS to respond to.
The requested use will need to follow an appropriate planning approval pathway and dialogue is still continuing in this regard.
There should be no direct financial impacts on Council associated with the requested use.