Construction pushing ahead on $60.5 million Weststate Private Hospital

Construction is pushing ahead on a new Townsville hospital, creating almost 200 jobs and giving one of the city’s historic buildings a new lease on life.

Construction pushing ahead on $60.5 million Weststate Private Hospital

CONSTRUCTION is pushing ahead on a new $60.5 million private hospital, giving Townsville’s historic West End State School a new lease of life while boosting local employment opportunities.

After seven years working to make the Weststate Private Hospital project a reality, Geon Property chief executive Ben Griffin was ecstatic to confirm they had received the “all clear” to start work.

Mr Griffin said they had signed a 20 month construction contract with appointed award-winning builder Woollam Construction last month and the company was already hard at work preparing the site in advance of construction activity beginning in earnest in February 2022.

Construction was expected to be complete by April/May, 2023, with the hospital expected to welcome its first patients by May/June 2023.

The project will be a boon for North Queensland employment, creating around 180 jobs during construction and 170 full-time positions when open.

Set on an approximate 8000 sqm site on the corner of Sturt Street and Ingham Road, the short-stay hospital will offer specialist surgical services including orthopaedics, urology and general surgery.

Picture 1Artist impressions for the Griffin Group development Weststate Private Hospital proposed for the corner of Ingham Rd and Sturt St.

The five-storey hospital will include four operating theatres, a separate procedure room, 22 overnight beds, 19 day surgery beds and a four bed intensive care facility, plus facilities for pathology, pharmacy, physiotherapy and radiology.

The hospital will be delivered by developer Geon Property in partnership with the property owner, Centuria Healthcare, in a deal brokered by Genera 45.

Geon Property CEO Ben Griffin praised the “unwavering support” shown by Townsville City Council and the local community since day one.

“Achieving construction approval is terrific news for our team which is keen to get moving onsite, but it’s great news particularly for the people of Townsville and the region,” Mr Griffin said. 

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Geon Property chief executive Ben Griffin is excited to push ahead with the Weststate Private Hospital project. Picture: Supplied.

“This hospital will provide a wide range of health services to support the growing population of the region, offer additional choice of quality healthcare and create jobs in the construction and health sectors. This is employment and healthcare that the region really needs.” 

Operational components of the hospital are funded by a local consortium of three surgeons who will finance 70 per cent, with the remaining 30 per cent provided by Queensland investors.

Operator, Weststate Private Hospital Limited chair David Kippin said a second private hospital in Townsville would help the local health system cope with increasing demand and provide state of the art services not currently available locally." alt="Artist impressions for the Griffin Group development Weststate Private Hospital proposed for the corner of Ingham Rd and Sturt St." width="451" height="253" />

Picture 3Artist impressions for the Griffin Group development Weststate Private Hospital proposed for the corner of Ingham Rd and Sturt St

“Weststate Private Hospital Limited is proudly 100 per cent Queensland-owned and the business activity we generate, medical services plus associated activities such as catering, cleaning and other services, will give a great boost to the local economy,” Mr Kippin said. 

“This development is a strong investment and exhibits confidence in the Townsville and North Queensland community.” 

Mr Kippin said some senior appointments had already been made, including interim CEO Neil Henderson, an Assistant Director of Nursing as well as a Chief Finance and IT Manager.

Steeped in history

The heritage listed Townsville West State School building was constructed between 1937 and 1939 and was the second of three Townsville West State Schools built within the grounds. 

The first, constructed in 1886-7, was one of the earliest public schools of Townsville.

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Three ex-students of Townsville West State School reminisce at the school's centenary celebration in April, 1987. They are Cliff Lock, left, who enrolled in 1917, John Ash (1913) and Wal Pearce (1911) Picture: Leo Thomas

Since 1991 the school has operated in a smaller complex on Wilson St, just around the corner from the historic building. 

Between 1991 and 2009 the building was used by the Townsville and District Education Centre, as a library, conference rooms, a creche and kindergarten, manual arts and home science facilities and a venue for a community group. 

The building has been vacant for more than a decade. 

The state government sold the property in 2014 for $1.3 million to a consortium of developers from Townsville and Brisbane. 

Geon Property lodged a development application with Townsville City Council to convert the building into a health care facility and private hospital, which was approved in 2017. 

In 2018, the development approval was challenged in court with the Mater Health North Queenslandlodging an appeal saying the development would have a “devastating” impact on its capacity to provide a full range of services to Townsville residents and didn’t comply with assessment benchmarks in both the Townsville City Plan and the State Heritage Code.

The Queensland planning and environment court found in favour of the new private hospital proceeding in 2019. 

On the Geon Property website, it said the group were dedicated to both respecting and revitalising the beloved heritage building into a thriving health precinct that delivers long-term health and economic benefits.

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