Decisions made about the future use of the former Gosford Public School site are being made in an orderly manner with each proposal considered on its merits, according to Central Coast Regional Development Corporation chair, Mr Graeme Inchley.
Mr Inchley said although the land is a state significant site, Gosford Council remains the approval authority, which means any proposed development will have to go through the normal council approval processes. According to Mr Inchley, misinformation has driven much of the community’s opposition to the announcement that new accommodation for the Australian Taxation Offi ce will be built on some of the land.
“I was surprised that some members of the community jumped to conclusions that what would be built there would take up the whole site or that the particular graphic that was used to illustrate the announcement was what was actually going to be built there,” Mr Inchley said.
He said the community also seemed to be misinformed about how decisions about the waterfront were being made and by whom. “The tender process or expressions of interest was undertaken by Government Property NSW on behalf of the Department of Education to determine how it would be developed. “Once that was done, it would provide the opportunity for the process of the sale of the land and the development of it.
“Our role was completed once we had rezoned it and created a site of state signifi cance. “That doesn’t mean we are not delighted with the fact someone is going to come in and create 600 jobs for Gosford, a fantastic amount of employment,” he said. Government Property NSW will need to continue to look for proposals for the use of the remainder of the site, now that the ATO has chosen some of the land for its new building.
Mr Inchley said it was important for the community to understand that the role of the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation is similar to the Hunter Development Corporation. “It has been established primarily to leverage government land assets in the region to ensure they are used to promote economic development,” he said.
One of the main determinants of the Corporation’s success will be how many jobs it is able to create as a result of fi nding the best possible use for state government owned land. “We need to identify state government owned land that could be developed for the economic benefi t of the region. “Once we identify the land, the zoning is something that would need to be looked at,” he said. According to Mr Inchley, the school land was formerly zoned SP1 and had restricted use.
“We went through a process of identifying that waterfront area to make it a site of state signifi cance because it was so important,” he said. “Its zoning was changed to B4 or mixed development, to provide the fl exibility to build whatever was appropriate on that site. “Our rezoning process was to provide fl exibility and to have mixed use. “We were not in the business of determining what that use would be and it is important to note that, in that rezoning process, the Gosford Council and a large proportion of the community were in favour of rezoning,” he said.
“We are looking across the whole of the Central Coast at various parcels of state government land that might be suitable for rezoning. There is an enormous amount of Government land across the Central Coast. “Some of it is already well utilised. “Within Gosford City, there are plenty of parcels of Government land, whether it needs to be rezoned yet we are not sure, but there is government land around the top of Mann St and around Gosford Hospital.”
Mr Inchley said he thinks the ATO and Government Land NSW need to continue to go through the process they have embarked on. “They need to advise the community of where that process is going and I am sure that is going to happen.” He said the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation had assisted Gosford Council’s attempts to get funding for a regional performing arts centre by undertaking an architectural competition based on it being built on the ‘poppy park’ site. That original proposal, according to Mr Inchley, has not gone ahead and is in the hands of Gosford Council.
The poppy park land is “under the care and control of Gosford Council”, is independent of the school site and not currently zoned for mixed use, Mr Inchley said. “The development of the school site land is being undertaken in an orderly manner and each proposal is being examined on its merits and there is still a long way to go and there still needs to be an approval process,”
Mr Inchley said. Interview, Oct 6, 2015 Graeme Inchley, Central Coast Regional Development Corporation Jackie Pearson, journalist