Involving the Government Architect is a fantasy fulfilment

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Kevin Armstrong might well be surprised at the latest turn of events in the Gosford CBD saga (Government Architect to develop a framework for Gosford revitalisation, Coast Community News, October 5), with the Government Architect being brought in to “deliver improved infrastructure and fast-track housing supply”, a job that, one would have thought, fell within the purview of the Coordinator-General whose appointment was announced with much fanfare only a few months ago.
One wonders what expertise the Government Architect brings to the problem of fast-tracking housing supply, not a task at which the government has been notably successful over past decades, and one in which, as far as I am aware, the Government Architect has no experience whatsoever.
What does this move signal, beyond a desperate desire to be seen to be doing something without having the faintest idea what to do?
This assignment is to be undertaken under the aegis of the Central Coast Regional Plan, a weak straw to rely on, since the plan itself consists of no more than vague and often unsubstantiated policies, a set of coloured maps of not much (if any) import, and a few pious hopes that things will get better in the future, if developers behave as they should, ie, act in the public interest instead of in pursuit of the greatest profit at the least possible cost.
Mr Armstrong is right to be puzzled at which “plan” the Government Architect will be following in this implementation process, as there has been a plethora of plans for Gosford, most of them ignored by Gosford Council and the State Government in making their decisions, and none of them with any substantial basis.
This sounds like another exercise in fantasy fulfilment, rather than a serious, hard-headed strategy move.
Where, for instance, do we see consideration of the geographical context of the Gosford CBD, socio-economic projections for the area, population-cohort estimates, market studies, traffic o/d surveys and environmental assessments that would underpin any serious planning project?
Has the Government Architect ever undertaken work in such areas that seem, on the face of it, to fall far outside the range of his experience?
Furthermore, where does the Coordinator-General sit in this arrangement?
According to reports, she holds monthly meetings to review “implementation programs” which must be the shortest meetings on record, considering we have seen no sign of “implementation” since she was appointed.
Perhaps, we who are the most affected by these meetings, should receive some information about them, but, in typical fashion, they are kept secret from us.
Most important of all, why is the shining, newly-minted Central Coast Council being undercut in this way?
Admittedly, the record of past councils has been abysmal, but surely the new council deserved some time to show its capabilities (or otherwise) for problem-solving within its jurisdiction?
Apparently, the council is to be “regularly consulted” on the future of its so-called regional capital (whatever that means), which will, no doubt, be a comfort to us all and reassure us that our local concerns are being fully recognised.
Ms Tesch’s comment that “Gosford doesn’t have the time to go back to scratch and come up with yet another plan” completely misses the point that there is no plan, and that there never has been any plan on which action could be based, and it will be astonishing if the Government Architect knows how to produce such a plan.
Now is the time for the new Council to show some initiative and justify its existence.
After 18 months of stagnation, when an energetic Administrator could have achieved much, the responsibility lies with councillors to take up the challenge, not only in Gosford, but in other more important parts of the region, of directing the city in the 21st century.
After all, the Government Architect isn’t scheduled to deliver his plan for a “dynamic, vibrant (obligatory for any plan) and lively” Gosford until mid-2018, so let us see the Council produce some ideas of its own and spark a real debate, while the Government’s turgid process takes its course.
Alternatively, are we to have a do-nothing council that sits on its hands (and other parts) and expects others to do its work for it?

Email, Oct 9
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

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