Protected Bushland in Chermside Bulldozed for Prince Charles Hospital Car Park Construction

Prince Charles Hospital
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Residents near Beneke’s Bush beside Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside are disappointed and concerned, as what is understood to be protected bushland was bulldozed to make way for a new car park

In late July 2023, heavy machinery descended upon the site, known as Beneke’s Bush. Trees were cut down to pave an access road to facilitate the car park construction.

The destruction included the removal of several large Norfolk Island pines and other trees, much to the dismay of the community.

Beneke’s Bush is supposedly safeguarded under a 99-year conservation agreement involving MP Terry Sullivan, the father of local Stafford Labor MP Jimmy Sullivan. The agreement, however, was voluntary, which meant that there were no enforceable penalties in place to prevent its violation.

“The south-western boundary of the Prince Charles Hospital has an area called Beneke’s Bush. It is part of the only original bushland in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. For the past four years, Cr Terry Hampson—a very dedicated environmentalist—and I worked with Neighbours of Huxtable Park, Men of Trees and other local groups to retain Beneke’s Bush for future generations,” MP Sullivan said in a 1999 statement.

“Because of the redevelopment of the cardiac facilities at Prince Charles Hospital, it was not possible for the department or Ministers to give a final answer until they knew what shape the hospital development would take. With the final plan having been settled on in recent times, it then came down to the hard work of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to work out exactly what would happen.

“I am pleased to have been at the ceremony at which the Health Minister, Wendy Edmond, and Councillor Terry Hampson signed a voluntary conservation agreement which will protect that property for the next 99 years. I thank the Minister who is beside me, Rod Welford, for the efforts of his department and the contribution and support that they gave to bring about the VCA. I believe that it has been a win/win all round. 

“The Neighbours of Huxtable Park have indicated that they would be prepared to do work in that part of the area which will not be needed for medical or hospital services. It will provide not only a buffer for the heavy traffic on Webster and Rode Roads but also a beautiful outlook for patients who are recovering from cardiac medical services. I thank all of those people involved and believe that those four years of hard work have ended in an excellent result.” 

Marchant Ward Councillor Fiona Hammond said the destruction of Beneke’s Bush was  “environmental vandalism.” Residents are appalled that such an important and protected natural space was sacrificed for a temporary construction access route.

“Some of the trees in this area were more than 100 years old. Our community deserved much better than this appalling effort,” Ms Hammond said in a video. “While I understand the need for more car parking at the hospital to relieve pressure on local streets, there are many alternative locations that should have been explored that did not impact our bushland.”

Despite claims from Metro North Health that proper consultation was carried out, a hospital employee contradicted these assertions, revealing that many locals and staff had not received adequate notifications through flyers, emails, or other means. Some learned about the clearing only when the bulldozers arrived on site.

Prince Charles Hospital
Photo Credit: Metro North Health

Metro North Health Executive Director Kate Copeland defended the decision, emphasizing the necessity for additional parking facilities due to the growing demand at Prince Charles Hospital. A 1500-space multistorey car park will be constructed on the site, which is expected for completion in 2024. 

However, the construction process will not be without ecological considerations. Metro North committed to revegetating some of the cleared areas and restoring greenery once construction is complete.

Published 11-Aug-2023