Gosford Waterfront Alliance heartened by JRPP decision

The latest version of the Doma Group's design for the ATO building looking (left) up Georgiana Terrace towards Mann St and (right) along the extended Baker St

Members of the Gosford Waterfront Alliance were heartened by the Joint Regional Planning Panel’s decision to give consideration to legitimate concerns about the proposed Doma development of an ATO building on the former Gosford Public School Site.

Gosford Waterfront Alliance president, Ms Marcelle Hoff, a veteran community campaigner, said members of the JRPP were clearly not convinced the DA was acceptable in its current form. “The JRPP deferred a decision on the ATO and requested a timeline and details of the history of the ‘Our City, Our Destiny Masterplan’, clear proof of ownership of the site and specific responses to issues raised by 10 community and local business members who spoke against the DA,” Ms Hoff said.

“They are understood to be seeking a supplementary report from Central Coast Council before reconsidering the DA,” she said. “This represents a short breathing space for all of those who have battled long and hard for this beautiful waterfront precinct. “Our land must be used for community and recreational use, not sold off to developers who will make their money and leave us with no hub or heart for our city.

We have a once in a lifetime chance to get the planning right on what has been described as the jewel in the crown of Gosford. “This superb and high visibility location deserves an iconic public building, not dreary nine-to-fi ve offi ce blocks. “These office blocks belong in the Gosford CBD,” Ms Hoff said. “But we need to keep pressure on all levels of government. “It is up to us as members of the community to take a stand and insist the Gosford waterfront is used for the purpose we choose.”

Ms Hoff said the key issues raised by community members in relation to the DA for the ATO included the absence of any reference to the ‘Our City, Our Destiny Masterplan’ that was developed by hundreds of community members and signed off by Gosford Council and the NSW Government in 2010 as a blueprint for the city. Original tender documents for the sale of the site, and the Development Control Plan both noted the entire former school site as a single stage.

“Therefore, we ask that there be a comprehensive analysis done on the site in order to protect and preserve the key aims identifi ed as the Gosford Waterfront DCP 2014.” That DCP aimed to: deliver an active mixed use precinct that would connect Gosford City Centre to the Brisbane Water foreshore; promote the waterfront and Gosford City Centre as a destination; and, incorporate community and social infrastructure, including a regional performing arts centre, regional park and public wharf facilities that take advantage of and activate the public realm and the Gosford foreshore.

The DCP also aimed to promote a range of amenities and services that would attract people of all ages to visit, live and work in the waterfront and in Gosford city centre as well as to respect and celebrate the heritage values of the site. “Car-parking has not been achieved and the fl oor space of the School of Arts was not included in the calculation, therefore the defi cit is worse than reported.” The former historic School of Arts building on the corner of Georgiana Tce and Mann St has not been assigned a usage, although there was mention of it being a Café.

Another heritage item on the site, the foundations of an original police building, are to be addressed in a yet to be fi nalised interpretive element of the design. The developer explained, at the JRPP meeting, his intention to uncover, photograph and rebury the foundations, then erect a sculpture or sign to commemorate their existence. The Gosford Waterfront Alliance has questioned whether the original dedication of the land as a school site had been legally removed. If the dedication was not removed legally, the sale of the site to Doma may be invalid. The alliance has also questioned the status of Baker St. “Can Baker St be reconstructed across what appears to be Crown Land? There is also signifi cant concern about the inadequacy of parking provisions in this DA.

Media release, Jun 15, 2016 Claire Braund, Gosford Waterfront Alliance

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