Northland District Health Board wants to change Whangārei Hospital's land zoning to enable future upgrades.

The DHB has developed three master plan options - progressive redevelopment, partial redevelopment and partial greenfield; and greenfield - for future development of the Whangārei Hospital site.

Any upgrade or rebuild of the hospital is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, but there is no word yet on the funding.

However, in October Health Minister David Clark announced a $24 million boost in funding for Whangārei Hospital, after NDHB submitted single stage business cases for a number of projects described as critical in creating adequate capacity while a redevelopment of the hospital is planned. The "interim" redevelopment, including a theatre extension, a new endoscopy suite and cardiac catheter laboratory, would enable the DHB to meet demand over the next five to 10 years.

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Under Whangārei District Council's District Plan, the hospital site is zoned Residential (Living Environment). The DHB is planning to lodge an application in April 2019 to change it to a special purpose hospital zone.

The DHB said the current zone does not support "current and future hospital activities" and it has to apply for resource consent each time there is a new development which limits its ability to appropriately plan for the hospital's future development.

The desired outcome is to ensure new building projects can occur within a defined development envelope.

Two public open days, today and Saturday, give the public the chance to view the future options drawings and ask questions about the rezoning proposal.

The work to redevelop the hospital will be subject to government funding and will likely take place in stages over the next 15 years.

The need for a major upgrade of the ageing hospital was highlighted in the DHB's 2016/17 annual plan. In May this year, the board got approval from the Government's Capital Investment Committee to present business cases.

The DHB would not be drawn on the cost, although the process the board is undergoing is indicative of the project's size.

Treasury investment in health infrastructure projects in excess of $15 million require GCIC approval, above Cabinet or ministerial approval.

Once the plan change application is lodged with the council, it will be publicly notified. Anyone can make a submission and request to be heard by the committee.

Once a decision is made, any submitter or the DHB can appeal the decision to the Environment Court.

The open day tomorrow is on from 5pm to 8pm and on Saturday from 9am to 12pm at Tohorā House - the entrance from the end of West End Ave.