The dilapidated site of Rachel Forster Hospital in Redfern is set to be redeveloped as a high-density residential block.
An environmental assessment outlining the details of the redevelopment – including 159 flats, a car park and a public park – is on public exhibition until March 22.
City of Sydney Greens Councillor Irene Doutney said she is disappointed with the changes to the site of the former hospital.
“They’re going to keep the minimum amount of heritage possible then bang a new building down. It’s not adaptive re-use at all, it’s demolition,” she said.
The Rachel Forster Hospital shut down in 2000, with most of its facilities transferred to the Prince Alfred Hospital. In 2007 the now-defunct Redfern Waterloo Authority sold the site to Kaymet Corporation Pty Ltd.
“It’s got a really incredible social history, especially for women,” Ms Doutney said.
The Rachel Forster Hospital opened in 1941 and was one of the first hospitals in Australia to provide doctor’s training to women. The hospital grew over the century, adding a venereal diseases clinic, a child clinic, an arthritis clinic, and in the 1950s opened a mammography and breast research clinic.
“They’ve let demolition by neglect happen to the hospital. There have been lots of squatters and kids in there,” Ms Doutney said. “People have ripped out the copper wiring, there’s graffiti and there’s broken glass everywhere.”
Under the environmental assessment on exhibition, the eastern face of the building with ‘Rachel Forster’ written down the side will be maintained, as well as the colonnades at the entrance to the front building on Pitt St. These are listed as ‘exceptional heritage items’.
Apart from these features, most of the site is to be knocked down and replaced.
Also a member of Redfern community group, REDWatch, Ms Doutney said the developers are only retaining the bare minimum in heritage items.
A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure said heritage values will form an important part of the development application’s assessment.
“The project application follows the approval of a concept plan in 2007, which allows residential land use on the site and outlined plans for building locations, building height, open spaces, landscaping, parking and vehicle access,” the spokesperson said.