Six years after the doctors and nurses finished work and the doors were shut forever, the old Orange Base Hospital is finally being pulled down.
Demolition crews have swung into action on the Prince Street side of the old complex this week.
Asbestos and contaminants have been cleared from the first building which will be knocked down later this week.
The work will take at least six months before a green site is left for future development, possibly including a new site for the NSW Department of Primary Industries [DPI] offices.
Albury-based Zauner Constructions, which has won the $3.4 million contract to demolish the buildings, has issued a letter to nearby residents advising them of the work.
“Like any construction site, there will be some noise and dust, however we will make every effort to keep this to a minimum and will endeavour to complete the works as quickly as possible,” the letter said.
“We note that heavy construction vehicles shall be operating in and out of the site during the course of the works and that some footpaths may be diverted as a safety measure in association with the demolition process,” it said.
All buildings on the site will go with only the historic ambulance station and about 20 trees to remain when the work is completed in February.
The demolition team will not use explosives or a wrecking ball, instead a concrete munching machine will smash through the structure.
Zauner Construction director Garry Zauner said the machine was regularly used in urban demolition work.
Mr Zauner said the bricks would be crushed on site but dust would not be a major issue for residents.
“That will be very well managed, our processes will ensure that is kept to a very minimum,” he said.
Orange City Council bought the 2.1 hectare site from the state government for $3.3 million in April 2015.
The latest planning development documents for the future of the site are currently on public display at the council offices in Byng Street.
It includes drawings depicting possible future use with a combination of offices for the DPI, green space and housing.
Council is proposing to rezone the site from medium density residential to a combination of mixed use for the Anson Street end of the site.
A dedicated mini website has also been set up with Orange City Council to provide updated information on the demolition process.
The site http://yoursay.orange.nsw.gov.au/former-hospital-site also has historical information and a section for public input from people with recollections of the old hospital.
The largest building on the site, the main block, was built in 1971.
On March 16, 2011, the doors were shut as patients and staff transferred to the current Orange Health Service site at Bloomfield.
The day before the new emergency service had received its first 13 patients.
It took two days for 77 patients to be ferried by ambulances to the new hospital.
The last baby was born at the old hospital and the first born at the new one on March 15.