Just six car spots for people with disabilities have been included in plans for Nepean Hospital’s new car park, set to accommodate more than 600 vehicles.
Penrith Council’s access committee was shown the plans put together by NSW Health at its October 11 meeting, and former Penrith Citizen of the Year and committee member, David Currie, was shocked by the numbers.
“When I first saw [the plans] I thought it must be for a railway station, and when I turned it over it was for Nepean Hospital,” he told the Star. “I thought, ‘you have got to be joking’.
“Six access spots for 625 car parks is below the standard.”
Penrith City Council received a development application (DA) worth $26 million for the construction of the new six-level car park and helipad in August. The development is part of the state government’s $550 million Nepean Hospital upgrade.
But Mr Currie believes a minimum of 30 accessible parking spots are needed for an area where those with mobility problems – the injured, infirm and elderly – constantly visit.
“I think most of the committee was in agreement that a minimum of 30 would be required,” he said. “This is absolutely ridiculous.”
A Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) spokesman said the parking complied with all relevant legislation.
“Planning and consultation for the campus-wide approach to car parking is still underway,” the spokesperson stated.
“The redevelopment team, NBMLHD and the redevelopment consumer committee are working closely together to deliver a campus-wide approach to car parking and mobility impaired access.
“This includes delivering accessible car spaces in convenient locations across the Nepean Hospital site (not just the new multi-storey car park), designing an undercover drop-off zone and short-stay parking area at the entry of the new clinical tower and facilitating safe and accessible pick-up and short-stay parking area at the entry of the new clinical tower and facilitating safe and accessible pick-up and drop-off zones for hospital transport (trolley) services.
“It’s also important to note that the parking allocation within the multi-storey car park adheres to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Clause D3.5 of the Building Code of Australia. The parking allocation across the Nepean campus exceeds that required by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.”
Former access committee member Cr Marcus Cornish has supported Mr Currie’s statements, saying he had penned a letter to the state government over the issue.
“The lack of disabled car parking around the hospital is of great concern,” he said.
“Whilst the government is using its own guidelines for the amount of disabled parking, this is not a shopping centre or a railway station.
“This is a place where a major percentage of people with disabilities come, and they are not just in wheelchairs; they include the elderly and people with limited mobility, which are an increasing proportion of our society.
“I will be writing to Health Minister Brad Hazzard and copying in the local members about this debilitating decision.”
Plans for major developments come before council’s access committee for review, with suggestions then reported back to the council for action over issues that may arise.
The committee includes people with different disabilities, as well as those who specialise in access work.