New regional plan clearly sets out the future of the Central Coast in detail

Growth projections from the Regional Plan 2036Growth projections from the Regional Plan 2036

The Central Coast 2036 Regional Plan clearly identifies Gosford as the capital of the region. “This thriving centre is a smart hub for health and education,” the plan said. 

The plan described what Gosford will be like in 2036: “The renewal of the city centre has attracted new residents, jobs, business and investment.” The plan sets out actions that will result in the growth of Gosford as the region’s capital including: “Coordinating government initiatives to attract business, residential development and complementary growth… will have fl ow-on benefi ts in helping to revitalise Gosford City Centre as a vibrant capital of the region.”

“The NSW Government will work with Council to promote commercial development through public investment and the relocation of public sector employment to the city centre,” remains a key platform in the government’s thinking about the city’s future. It points out that additional residential development will “help to build a livelier, more attractive and safer city centre. “The expansion of cultural and night time activities will support the tourism role of the city centre and complement tourism opportunities elsewhere in the region,” the plan said.

“Precinct planning will identify opportunities to grow and support the revitalisation of the city centre. “The focus will be on improving amenity, integrating transport, encouraging higher density housing within walking distance of the city centre and delivering community infrastructure.” According to the plan, the redevelopment of Gosford Hospital, including the addition of a Central Coast Medical School and Health and Medical Research Institute, will drive further investment in allied health and research. It also acknowledged the need to integrate planning for transport and car parking so that residents and workers can access the city centre.

The actions listed to grow Gosford as the region’s capital include focusing on professional, civic and health services for the region’s population, which suggests the city’s centre is expected to be the local government’s headquarters and main professional hub. The NSW Government’s fi nal regional plan commits to undertaking and integrating precinct planning “for the waterfront, arts and entertainment, city core, railway and hospital precincts to grow jobs and coordinate the delivery of improved transport infrastructure”.

Another action listed is to: “Attract and facilitate greater commercial development in Gosford City Centre by improving the public domain and providing opportunities for development through local planning controls”. Gosford City Centre will also be promoted as an attractive place to live, work and play through local planning controls that “support vibrant and safe cultural, entertainment and visitor activities”. Opportunities will be sought to better connect the east and west sides of the Gosford Railway Station, the plan said. The plan also promises to “ensure the development in Gosford City Centre responds to its natural setting and complements the public domain”.

Access to the city centre from the West and the North will also be improved under the plan. “The economy is strong and diversifi ed and is supported by effi cient freight and passenger connections to adjoining regions. “Proximity to Greater Sydney and Newcastle, bolstered by investment in transport infrastructure, has made it possible for residents to access a wider variety of jobs and services both within and beyond the region. “Tourism and recreation have become mainstays of the economy,” the plan said. The Regional Plan’s vision for the Central Coast is for settlement to be concentrated around existing urban and employment areas in the south and existing rural villages. It said “the scenic values and distinctive character of communities” would continue to underpin the social and cultural identity of the region.”

Communities will be better connected by an integrated transport system that prioritises cycling, walking and public transport. There will be enough housing to satisfy demand around Gosford City Centre, in growth corridors and local centres across the region. Greater housing supply will make housing more affordable. “The region’s renowned natural environment provides attractive settings for a range of lifestyles and is a drawcard for visitors beyond the region,” the plan said. Protecting the region’s coastal areas, water resources and biodiversity will assure the lifestyles, economic prosperity and environmental health of the region, the plan said.

To achieve the vision, the NSW Government set four goals for the region: a prosperous Central Coast with more jobs close to home; protect the natural environment and manage the use of agricultural and resource lands; wellconnected communities and attractive lifestyles; and, a variety of housing choice to suit needs and lifestyles. The plan puts contentious local issues such as land use west of the M1 motorway back on the agenda. For example, one “key action” in the plan is to: “Address land use needs west of the M1 Pacifi c Motorway to provide integrated and adaptable planning outcomes for natural assets, productive lands and rural lifestyles”. The NSW Government has released an implementation plan for 2016-18.

“A government direction will be issued to the Council so that when it prepares new planning proposals or updates local planning controls, they are consistent with the vision and guiding principles of this plan,” it said. An annual report will be prepared that presents indicators for housing, employment, communities and the environment, as well as advice to the government on the delivery of short-term actions, and the plan will be reviewed and adjusted every five years. According to the plan, the key to the future prosperity of the Central Coast “lies in leveraging the region’s many competitive advantages.

“They include a single Council, a strong labour force, a growing population, cost-effective housing and employment land, access to major markets, viable business locations, good transport infrastructure, an enviable natural environment and a community that cares about its future.” However, according to the plan, “At present there is a disconnect from these advantages. “Many people leave the region for work. “There is also a separation between infrastructure and growth, and the land use planning and policy decisions that will sustain the environment and resources for the future.”

The plan is intended to empower the Central Coast Council to work with the NSW Government to: foster economic development in strategic corridors and transport gateways; improve the network of vibrant centres that are accessible to residents; accelerate housing supply and increase housing choice within a well-planned and compact settlement pattern; and, secure environmental corridors to protect water resources, coastal areas and biodiversity.

Website, Oct 19, 2016 NSW Planning and Environment, Central Coast Regional Plan Jackie Pearson, journalist