Authors congratulated for thought provoking plan

May I congratulate Peninsula News on its sponsorship and publication of the Central Coast Community Plan.

It is a thought-provoking document, and the authors are to be commended for their initiative and energy in putting together such an exercise in public-policy formulation. If only we could feel some confidence that the future operations of the Central Coast Council would be guided by the principles set out in the Plan, but one wonders whether any of the current crop of candidates has made a serious study of the contents. When one reads the lists of items considered to be the “most important issue” in their respective policy statements, it doesn’t sound as though many have more than a very myopic view of the Council’s role in shaping our future. Of course, there are many points of detail over which one may quibble.

I find the division into the 18 topics rather arbitrary, with great variation in importance and scope between the elements. The ordering is also a little perplexing: is Youth really more important than Housing and does Social Cohesion and Democracy really only rank 15th in our minds? I’d have preferred a more compact structure for the Plan – say, Governance (items one and two), Social Structure (items 15, 5, 6, 4, 7, 12, 16 and 17), Built Environment (items 13, 9 and 18), Natural Environment (item 3), Economic Structure (items 14 and 11) and Support Elements (items 8 and 10). At present, Governance seems to be over-focussed on corruption, and there is no mention of the fundamental need for coordination between the various agencies of government (our famous Coordinator-General doesn’t even get a mention). I think, also, that drainage, sewerage and waste management deserve a separate item under Built Environment: at the moment, they are very short-changed, compared to Transport.

In addition, it is possible that Natural Resources (land, water, vegetation, minerals etc.) need separate treatment, given the wide range of issues related to them and the many conflicts within the region arising in connection with them. However, broadly speaking, there are many good points in the presentation, and, no doubt, it can be fleshed out with more detail. On one point, I am in complete disagreement with the Plan, and this relates to the elusive Performing Arts Centre which, the Plan recommends, should be on the Gosford waterfront.

I have argued, on many occasions, that this is a bad location, with poor access for most of the Central Coast population, parking difficulties and uncertain structural problems. It is a little inconsistent that the Plan argues, in one place, that Council should “maintain or increase the amount of open space”, while, in another, suggesting that part of Gosford’s scarce, existing, waterfront recreation area should be built on. The proper place for a PAC is near the population centre of gravity which is somewhere east of Tuggerah. In this location, it could be integrated with a new regional capital. Finally, I am totally baffled to imagine what is meant by a “Housing: Projected Demand and Salt and Pepper Supply” report. In 40 years of planning practice, I never encountered such a term. Is it somehow related to a “Stick and Carrot” or “Honey and Vinegar” or “Meat and Veg.” concept: I only use salt and pepper in the kitchen.

Email, 8 Sep 2017 Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy