Slings and Arrows: Parking Chaos Looms at New Royal Adelaide Hospital

The Health Minister’s minders are probably hoping that this tip won’t escape the office until well after he cuts the ribbon at the New Royal Adelaide Hospital. There’s going to be big car park space shortage at and surrounding the $2.1 billion site.

DON’T MENTION THE CARS!

Former health minister, John Hill, scoffed at the claim years ago, soon after he approved the RAH build, claiming it was ‘without merit’. But 12 months ago, experts took another look. A detailed May 2015 consultants’ report* says that the total workforce originally anticipated at the West-End site was 8,000 but with the addition of a new dental school (additional 550 students, 120 staff, plus tutors, about 700 total) that number has risen to 8,700. Figures calculated quietly last year now reveal there’ll be a shortage of 1,790 spaces compared to the old East-End site. Here are the sums.

Current RAH: 1,320 on-site spaces + 270 scattered around site roads + 3,500 at parking stations within 250m of site + 800 private spaces = 5,890.

New RAH: 2,600 spaces on site + nearby public/private spaces 1,500 = 4,100. Shortage: 1,790.

ACED FOR SPACE

Part of the problem is that the new research building (SAHMRI) and dental school buildings have minimal facilities for car parking (brilliant design there!) and surrounding North Terrace/Hindley Street West precinct also hasn’t enough. The nearest alternative is the recently built Convention Centre car park – 350m from the site and not likely to tempt many (especially afternoon shift workers) but if the new on-site hospital park is full, families wanting to drive with toddlers and baggage will have no choice but to either trawl local streets, or park at the Convention Centre and walk the distance, day or night. ( that’s assuming there isn’t a big convention running, in which case that car park also will be full.) Of course, when a health minister visits in his big white car, he’ll continue to park at the front door. Perhaps when the minister is not visiting, that space might be left free for hundreds of visitors attending the sick and dying? It’s the least he could do.

DOWN LONELY STREET

The shtick bandied about in the Premier’s Department PR tent is that everyone’s going to walk, ride bikes or catch buses or trams to the new hospital, which will alleviate the pressure in streets nearby. But bus services down west are not as good as the eastern end. And even if some try to drive and park, the Hindley West precinct adjacent to the new hospital is not exactly friendly. “ There is a much stronger perception of reduced personal property security in the Hindley West precinct than in the East End precinct,” the report says. “ This is less of a problem around the [UniSA campus] but is very evident towards the west end of Hindley… particularly in Gray, Rose, Philip and Newmarket streets where many land uses are not operating after normal business hours and involve vacant or disused premises. Even the major thoroughfares of North Terrace, West Terrace, Hindley Street West and Currie Street have a sense of isolation during darkness.”

SHOPPING AROUND

The hospital site staff number forecast also doesn’t consider the number of people who’ll run commercial operations there because tenancies aren’t yet finalised. There’s to be 1,500 square metres’ more commercial area than the old hospital. The NRAH numbers are: 2,750 sq m for new cafes, restaurants, childcare, gym, banks, newsagency, hairdresser and florist, etc. at the hospital; another 4,700 sq m of commercial space across three levels in the Health Innovation building, plus another 67 sq m of retail space in the Adelaide Uni dental school. There’s no mention of these additional people in the estimates required for car parking. Ah well, perhaps traders can run the shops online and work from home instead. Open the doors via Google, turn on the lights via PC, prepare the tucker via tablet, arrange the flowers by telepathy, and have the children cared for by robot. The Health Minister did say it would be a whole new experience down there. What minister doesn’t want to hear that he was right all along!

*Economic implications of New RAH health precinct on Hindley West Precinct. Fyfe Pty Ltd, May 26 2015, 16pp. Ref: 64855.

Ashley White fly is Executive Director of the Adelaide White fly Institute of Diplomatic Studies

X