WA Today

The journey back to life and vibrancy for the Princess Margaret Hospital site and wider Subiaco has begun as teams of workers dismantle the interior of the beloved old children’s hospital.

After it closed to patients, the site was fenced off, with security patrols and CCTV surveillance preventing unauthorised access.

Decommissioning teams were now shutting down engineering equipment and services such as water, lighting and lifts, Department of Health infrastructure director Will Monaghan said.

They were returning rented vending machines to their owners, destocking the shelves of all medical supplies and removing IT equipment.

More than 7000 pieces of equipment were being taken to the new Perth Children’s Hospital.

The rest was first offered to other WA hospital sites and services, and the surplus donated to Health Hope Zambia, a charity caring for Zambia’s poorest children.

So far, more than 26 pallets of consumables, 400 computer monitors, 136 beds, 32 patient trolleys and 24 infant cots, along with further essential clinical equipment, had been donated to the charity, Mr Monaghan said.

About 350 of PMH’s artworks had gone to PCH and another 300 either went to community health centres or were sold in a public art sale in November.

Three sculptures by Owen Davies, Whiteman Estate Carriage, Child in a Cot and Bronze Children, would eventually be displayed elsewhere in Perth.

Some PMH features, including art, plaques and archived items, were relocated to PCH along with a special area set aside in the northern green space area to preserve memories of PMH.

Mr Monaghan said the department had got requests from members of the public wanting to tour the empty building, but it was no longer safe to take visitors there.

“Hospital staff recognise that Princess Margaret Hospital holds powerful memories for former patients and their families,” he said.

“For this reason a series of commemorative events were held at the site prior to its closure for the community to come together and reflect on the shared connection we have to the hospital.”

He said after the decommissioning the site would be formally transferred to the control of Minister for Planning, Lands and Heritage Rita Saffioti, on September 11.

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority will then start the next chapter.

The future of PMH

To be retained are Godfrey House, the hospital’s original foundation stone, and the multi-faith chapel where generations of parents prayed for their children.

Godfrey House is already state heritage-listed and so protected under the Heritage Act. An official assessment of the is now being commissioned with the intent of also having the chapel listed. Both buildings have also been identified in the draft Heritage Inventory under the wider redevelopment scheme, which will provide another layer of protection. The MRA is inviting comment on this inventory until August 10.

Its “statement of intent” says the site will be developed as mixed use, with a focus on housing and providing providing commercial, retail and employment-generating land uses.

It says a “critical mass of people” will need to be introduced to capitalise on the location near West Leederville train station and the city.

It says development should be higher scale towards Thomas Street and transition to the lower scale residential areas westward.

Development should “retain and celebrate existing heritage listed buildings, with interpretation of the hospital use to be integrated.”

And it should facilitate pedestrian, cycling and public transport linkages.

It says the area has potential as a main eastern entrance to Subiaco with landmark buildings and landscaping providing “a sense of arrival” from West Perth.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia WA urged the government not to take too long.

“Given the site has extensive historical and sentimental value to Perth and the broader Western Australian community, there is an opportunity now to redevelop the site into something really special that will benefit the broader community well into the future,” it said in a recent blog.

“At over 35,000sqm in size, and located so close to the CBD, the estimated value of the site would be well over $100 million and it provides a fantastic redevelopment opportunity.”

It said it was important that the site not lie dormant for years, not just because it was a waste of prime development land but because the loss of people in the area would continue to impact local businesses.

It said there were excellent examples across the country of former hospital sites redeveloped into valuable spaces that fulfilled needs for inner city housing, parks and other amenities close to existing infrastructure.

Old hospital site redevelopments around Australia

Old Royal Adelaide Hospital site in South Australia: the state government is commencing a mixed-use development educational and research facilities, businesses, homes and public places, with seven heritage-listed buildings being retained and repurposed, and the development linking to Adelaide Botanic Garden, the East End, universities and Adelaide Botanic High School.

Former Southport Hospital site on the Gold Coast: developer Property Solutions will build Queen Street Village, a $550 million masterplanned community with mid-rise apartments, a supermarket, retail and dining, medical facilities, hotel, cinema and offices.

Old Marickville Hospital site, inner western Sydney: developer Mirvac is building Marrick & Co, with apartment and terrace homes, parks and playgrounds, a new library incorporating old hospital wards and heritage-listed former nurses’ quarters to be restored and converted into units.

Elsewhere in Subi

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority is overseeing the Subi East redevelopment, 35.6 hectares of land across Subiaco, West Leederville and West Perth.

This includes the PMH site, Subiaco Oval and surrounds, and the new Inner City College at Kitchener Park.

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti has approved the scheme setting out a high-level vision, laying the groundwork for the master plan.

LandCorp has begun studies to inform this master plan. A business case is expected by the end of 2018 and a master plan will be prepared in 2019 and released for community comment.

At Subiaco Oval, the heritage-listed gates will be preserved, with a smaller oval planned for school and community groups to use.

Some grandstands will stay in place to house the WA Football Commission, and surrounding areas will be redeveloped for a range of leisure, education and residential uses.

Mueller Park will not be redeveloped beyond maintenance work.

All forward works, which include the realignment of water pipes and other infrastructure, have been completed for the $68 million high school at Kitchener Park.

Main building works were due to begin mid-year, though the government has not yet announced their start date. The community will also have access to the college’s playing courts and gymnasium. The school will open to year 7s in 2020 and expand to years 7-12 in 2025.

Residents can view the detail of the Subi East planning documents here.