It’s time for a ‘cultural heart’ in Gosford, member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks MP has declared, calling for a united plan for the Regional Performing Arts Centre.
In a speech to parliament, Ms Wicks reaffirmed she was fighting for $10 million in funding for the project, and revealed a snapshot of the economic impact the Centre will have.
“Just as I have fought for an economic heart for Gosford with 600 jobs, I will fight to ensure a cultural heart,” Ms Wicks said.
“An economic assessment provided by Gosford Council and Regional Development Australia as part of my formal support for this project advises that the Centre would create 146 jobs after construction, and attract more than 123,000 visitors in its first year, and more than 207,000 by its fifth year.
“This is estimated to deliver a net benefit for our region of approximately $85.6 million flowing from the Performing Arts Centre. “I’m fighting for a business heart – so businesses in Gosford can grow, thrive, compete, prosper and employ even more local people in more local jobs.
“I’m fighting for an economic heart – so that instead of seeing shop windows boarded up, we see new businesses embed themselves in our city. “I’m fighting for an infrastructure heart – so that after decades of neglect, we can see cranes in the sky over Gosford; new buildings we can be proud of 20 years from now.
“And I’m absolutely fighting for a cultural heart. “Gosford needs a cultural heart – as much as it needs jobs, opportunity and innovation.
“In recent days, we’ve seen an announcement by Gosford Council that it was not proceeding with the plan for the Performing Arts Centre to be built on the Memorial Park, now known more colloquially by the community as Poppy Park.
“In the same breath, Council also ruled out putting it back on the old Gosford Public School site.
“Back in March this year, when the State Government announced its $12 million commitment, it looked like we finally had our house in order.
“With the Council’s own $12 million commitment, all that we needed was $10 million from the Federal Government, a commitment I am fighting to deliver.
“So I can well understand the confusion expressed by my community at this decision. “Community groups – ironically led by Labor and the Greens representatives – are demanding it be built on the school site – with not one commitment by Labor MPs to buy the land to enable it to happen.
“Enough is enough.” The speech also touched on the decades-long history of the site, including how the NSW State Government committed in March for $12 million, tied to the Poppy Park site.
“This would be an iconic piece of civic infrastructure that Gosford has been crying out for for nearly 50 years,” Ms Wicks said. “I found that in an article in the old Gosford Star newspaper in 1971, Council was seeking a transfer of ownership of the land from the NSW Department of Education to Council, while promising the community it would be used for ‘civic purposes’.
“More plans came and went, but then some 40 years after that article was written, older than I am, the community had, it seemed, finally agreed to a plan.
“This was a plan that saw the Council, who is the responsible authority to determine the location of a Regional Performing Arts Centre, move away from the proposal to build it on the Public School site – land it did not own – and onto adjacent land.
“That land was Gosford Memorial Park, land Council is responsible for, and land, if it chooses, to build on. “I’ve been fighting for this, and delivering on the commitments we made in the Coalition’s Growth Plan for the Central Coast, ever since I was elected.
Nov 13, 2015
Tim Sowden, office of