Commentary from the business community is not based on facts

Letter to the editor

I have been becoming increasingly annoyed lately by many reinterpretations of the facts about Gosford Waterfront: by Mr Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast; by his echo, Mr Adam Crouch, Member for Terrigal, despite his not even being the Member for Gosford; and by the Chamber of Commerce (Ms Alison Vidler and Ms Deborah Warwick).

I have researched the facts, which follow, together with source documents, and I am sending them to you in the interests of factual journalism. Comments made by the Gosford Chamber of Commerce in relation to the waterfront could be noted for their inaccuracy and selective revisionism. The least our community ought to expect from the President of its Chamber of Commerce is that comments made are properly researched and represent accurate information.

In fact, Gosford District Chamber of Commerce has supported the establishment of a cultural and performing arts precinct since 2006, before the CCRDC, and before any design competition for a Regional Performing Arts Centre. It is absolutely clear that an arts and cultural precinct on the school site was under active consideration 10 years ago. The Gosford City Centre Masterplan project was implemented with the instigation of the Gosford Challenge in 2008, a partnership between Gosford City Council and the community, which articulated the need and desire for Gosford to be recognised as the regional capital of the Central Coast. Our City Our Destiny was endorsed by the NSW government, at Ministerial level, no less.

No reason whatever has been given for a back-fl ip on previous plans by the NSW Government property authority. Two draft Gosford LEPs refl ected the outcomes of the Our City Our Destiny masterplan. The maps (zoning, FSR and height of buildings) are available on Council’s website. At the launch of the Masterplan in August 2010, the responsibility for implementation was officially passed to the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation. Gosford Council and the CCRDC entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of a continued strong partnership and the combining of resources focused on the revitalisation of Gosford.

The CCRDC never had any legitimacy amending or re-interpreting the community endorsed plan, and certainly not without returning to the community for a similar level of consultation. Such consultation never occurred. The CCRDC has a massive confl ict of interest: being a government department within Planning NSW, supposedly concerned with policy and good urban planning, but describing itself on its homepage as CCRDC Real Estate Developer. Waterfront development in Gosford is unlikely to ‘revitalise the CBD’, nor did massive development at Honeysuckle revitalise Newcastle CBD, in fact it made a bad situation considerably worse.

Any professional person would understand the potential reputational damage to any organisation wilfully ignoring a petition of 10,000 signatures against the removal of Gosford Primary School, a separate petition of 11,000 signatures against proposals for The Landing, and hundreds of posts on at least three Facebook sites initiated by local groups related to ‘Save Gosford Waterfront’. Maybe it is coincidental that the CCRDC is currently under review by the Minister and that it appears to be currently operating without a Board and a permanent appointed CEO. Some of the history of the cultural precinct and the Regional Performing Arts Centre is captured by the motion placed before the former Gosford Council by then-councillor, Ms Hillary Morris: “The Master Plan was, when exhibited, supported by 84 per cent of the community; the performing arts centre is shown with an arrow to the school site; page 28 …defi nes Precinct 2, the arts and entertainment precinct, showing before and after photos of Baker St and Leagues Club Park…” The business community certainly has a right to comment on local proposals as do residents and ratepayers. It is unhelpful when the business community chooses a party-political alignment rather than considering issues on their merits. It is equally unhelpful when commentary from the business community is not based on facts.

Email, Jun 6, 2016 Kevin Armstrong, West Gosford

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