Manly Hospital Site – Current Situation

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Initiative Title: Manly Hospital Site – Current Situation
Category: Planning Initiatives

After waiting 6 months for feedback on the out-workings of our Dec’18 Community Vision Workshop, a PSAC meeting was finally held on Friday 21 June’19.   The Dec’18 Vision Workshop results were distributed and consideration given towards a better way forward, especially now the Federal & NSW state elections were over and regard given to the many NB Hospital issues which had sapped NSW Health Infrastructure resources.  This meeting had only arisen at our insistence and approaches to our local member (James Griffin) who made know that in his next 3 year term of office that our Manly Hospital site usage would be one of his top 2 focuses.  (The other being “The Spit Tunnel”).

The PSAC has now been taken over by the NSW Government Property Division.  Leon Walker, Executive Director of Property NSW explained how the site had now been formally handed over to his care – after NSW Health Infrastructure apologised for their inaction on the site and withdrew from further involvement.  Due to Health Infrastructure’s constant failure to meet their own project schedule, it is now deemed to be 6 months behind its original schedule, a schedule to which it gave zero consideration to all the lost opportunities missed.   It would appear our expectations will need to be adjusted accordingly.  Reassurance was given that the Youth Hospice would remain on schedule for starting construction in 2020.   This important undertaking has become our primary “stake-in-the ground” to prevent any notion of an offload by NSW Government Finance/Property onto vampire property developers. 

Site due diligence to decontaminate the site, consider its zoning and the demolition of most of the existing buildings were all still under review given the significance of their heritage listings.   We are still awaiting access rights to the site to reassess certain buildings (5) with the potential for immediate reuse, now that all staff and useful fittings have vacated the site after its closure in Oct’18.

It has also been determined that the Queenscliff Health Care centre site, that was also surplus to NSW Health’s  requirements, has now been formally transferred to Landcom, potentially for affordable housing.   If affordable housing usage could be appended to its Document of Understanding (DoU) this could be another important contribution to our overall health care and wellbeing strategy being implemented locally.   The urgent need to accommodate health care & emergency services workers, unable to afford to live in the Manly area (due to the high cost of residential properties) and need for such resource to staff  the many health care services being proposed, would also create incredible employment and volunteer opportunities, another much needed initiative to keep our locals local.   

One of the main outworking of the Manly Community Visioning Workshop in Dec’18 was its vision statement for the site – a statement designed to be inspirational and aspirational:- 

“A vibrant health and well-being sanctuary which welcomes and supports the needs of the local and wider community – achieved through innovation and balance”.    These few words coupled with some basic development principles (6) and  a preliminary Zonal Master Plan prepared by Cox Architecture is all that we have to proceed to the next stage  – develop a “Registration of Interest” from parties believing they can deliver this vision?

There was some attempt to list some of the potential usages for the site but insufficient time remained to consider how these might achieve the vision statement “through innovation and balance”.  It was our team that also asked that the various functional synergies and integration opportunities across these  usages needed to be considered to determine how innovation and balance could be achieved.  We also felt more was needed to articulate what “an iconic site that the community would be rightly proud of ” might be best achieved eg. by way of an international architecture competition.    


Future Use of Manly Hospital_Review of Options.compressed

 NSW Health Infrastructure commissioned KBC, Orange to prepared the above report for the PSAC.  To say the least, this report was most disappointing from a Manly Community perspective.  It totally missed the point of the gap that the closing of Manly Hospital created our available care care facilities at a time when massive gaps already existed.  It demonstrated the lack of meaningful empathy for the local Manly Community’s passion for the site, the real gaps in our health care needs and the full impact the Manly Hospital closure would have on the local community.   The scope of the study report extended across NSW Greater Sydney – Sydney North, suggesting that if one of our Manly Community health care gaps could be partially addressed by an existing/proposed capability in say Hornsby, Lane Cove or Ku-ring-gai, then Manly locals should either move there or commute to obtain such services.  Reports such as this one badly missed the target and its title “Future Use of Manly Hospital” does not even appreciate that our existing hospital is to demolished and its all about the usage of the site made available post its closure.   The most significant impact of the Manly Hospital closure is on the local Manly Community not people in Hornsby, Ryde or even North Sydney.    The study didn’t even include our need for a Youth Hospice for Palliative care to complement the success of our children’s Bear Cottage nearby.     

It has always been understood that the agreed future usages of the site must adhere to that articulated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NSW Finance (Property) for local community health care and well being services usage and with NB Council for ancillary services (such as electricity, water, transportation, waste disposal, parking, etc.). 


The Manly Hospital site has been in public hands since 1896 when the Manly Hospital consisted of 6 beds.   In 1931 the new Manly Hospital, as we know it today, was built and became the responsibility of the NSW Government.    As far back as 2007, when the need for a modern 5 level hospital was envisaged for Northern Beaches, our then NSW Government representative (Mike Baird) supported the reality that the Manly Hospital site was no longer suitable for the new hospital for a whole host of reasons (mainly poor accessibility).   Once the new site at Frenches Forest was agreed as a more appropriate site for a much larger hospital, the community concern about “the future of the Manly Hospital site” began to gain momentum.   NSW Health has determined subsequently that the Manly Hospital site and the associated site at Queenscliff were surplus to their requirements.  Successive community polling, surveys and meetings have made it very clear that the community preferences and consensus is toward some form of a Community-directed Health Care facility –  a view supported by Mike Baird (as our then NSW State Premier) and now local member James Griffin.   In accordance with this community response, in 2013 Mike Baird established the Manly Hospital Community Advisory Group (MCHAG) which produced it first and only report in June 2015 where these community preferences were again ratified, documented and announced to the Manly Community.

The shock announcement by Mike Baird in 2017 of his retirement from politics has meant our prime supporter and sponsor for our community preferences has been under challenge. Comments from our nearby NSW Health Minister (Brad Hazzard), who now has jurisdiction over the site, was recorded in the Manly Daily as saying “that all options for the site are now on the table”.  This raised serious questions as to whether the voice and will of our community had been sufficiently loud enough and needed to heard and better articulated.  During the course of the ensuing Bi-Election (for the NSW seat of Manly), there were many re-assuring remarks made by our new Premier Gladys Berejiklian (also born at Manly Hospital) that she was very happy to continue with the direction taken by our previous Local Member and Premier (Mike Baird).

After the election of James Griffin to the NSW seat of Manly, he announced that he was planning to establish a Manly Community Advisory Committee (PSAC), consisting of 5 sub-committees, one of which included NSW Health.   The original MCHA Group, which was in the process of being restructured under the auspices of the Johnstaff Consulting firm, was terminated by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazard and a new PSAC reformed by James Griffin as our local NSW Government representative. 

Brad Hazzard authorised us to conduct a Manly Hospital site visit to tour the 36 existing Manly buildings earmarked for re-use and renovation, working with Frank Bazik, Northern Beaches Health Services/Hornsby Kur-ing-gai Health Services and Jeni Wenden.  During the tour we were able to ascertain that only 12 of the existing buildings had potential for reuse, including those marked with heritage significance.  High level floor plans for each level of these buildings was obtained and 5 buildings identified as being worthy of serious consideration to fill some of the more urgent community health care gaps:

  • Main Block (Building B2 – 2 levels)
  • West Wing (Building B3 – 3 levels)
  • South Wing (Building B4 – 5 levels)
  • East Wing (Building B30 – 1/2 levels)
  • Kiosk (Building B5 – 1 level)

A report entitled “Manly Hospital Site – Reuse of Existing Buildings”  was presented to the PSAC on 1 Sept’18.   This report can be found in the McHCF Initiative on this subject (Building Reuse Strategy). 

The other initiatives undertaken was the provision of a Facebook Page (McHCF) associated with this website portal (Yourself Helper) where members of our Manly Community are to be:-

  • Kept up-to- date on what is happening with the Future of the Manly Hospital site 
  • Encouraged to become engaged and be consulted on the many and varied Initiatives underway on this project (by Registering)
  • Active participants shaping one or more Initiatives (by Signing Up as a Community Volunteer) 
  • Able to make a Donation towards sustaining these on-line Community services and gatherings

The aggregation of the Manly Community’s preference, for an array of Health Care permanent and temporary residences with supporting health care capabilities, have been described as a Manly Community-driven Health Care Facility (McHCF) for establishment on our Manly Hospital site.   The purpose of a McHCF Facebook Page and an associated Website Portal, is to arrange a whole series of community collaborations and meetings (if necessary) on (20) identified Initiatives needing your support, engagement and consultation (including this one to keep our community abreast of what is actually happening in this space).  There are three types of roles being sought for each Initiative – a Subject Matter Expert (SME), Project Manager (PM) and a number of Volunteers. The establishment of a framework for community involvement in these initiatives has identified the following planning initiatives for our proposed Manly Community-driven Health Care Facility (McHCF) at our Manly Hospital site:-

Planning & Development:   

  • Current Situation (this Page)
  • Future Vision & Benefits 
  • Building Re-Use Strategy

  • Queenscliff Building Re-Use

  • Public/Private Funding

  • Management, Governance & Policy

  • Post-Closure Planning

Residential Facilities: 

  • Aged Care – Permanent

  • Palliative Care Youth Hospice – Permanent/Temporary 

  • Disability (Physical & Mental) – Permanent

  • Affordable Housing – Permanent/Temporary

  • Addiction Rehabilitation – Temporary 

  • Refuge (Men & Women) – Temporary

Private & Public Health Care – Ancillary & Infrastructure Services:

  • Well-being & Preventative Health

  • Research, Education & Training

  • Innovation & Technology

  • Energy Management

  • Waste Management

  • Transportation & Access

  • Environment and Ecology

Please keep us posted via this website on any other related matters, initiatives or work groups that you feel should be included or removal and shared across the broader Manly Community.

Contact Name: Darryl Dobe
Contact Email Address:
Start Date: 06-May-2017
End Date: 29-Dec-2019
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