Friends of Gosford call for increased local control over the Coast’s future

Malcolm BrookesMalcolm Brooks, former Gosford Mayor and State MP. Archive image 2015

Mr Malcolm Brooks, former Mayor of Gosford and now Chair of Friends of Gosford Pty Ltd, has called for the abolition of the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation and the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

“Now that the State Government has forced the merger of Gosford and Wyong Council, becoming one with a population of 300,000 plus, the second largest council in NSW, it is time to take a fresh look at some of the bureaucratic and supposedly independent panels and corporations whose decisions impact on our way of life,” Mr Brooks said. “The Central Coast Regional Development Corporation (CCRDC) is now under review by the Minister for Planning, Mr Anthony Roberts,” he said. “Minister don’t waste time reviewing it, simply abolish it. “Established by the previous Labor Government, its record is abysmal. “Admittedly, its charter, set by Labor, is to identify public land, rezone it, and then sell it, no regard to the impact on surrounding areas, community views or our quality of life.

“Look at their record: approval of a Performing Art Centre on the Anzac Poppy Field; the proposal for five 10-storey finger wharves along the Broadwater; and the old Gosford Primary School site being rezoned for commercial and high rise residential development. “The poppy fi eld site should remain linked to Anzac Memorial Park. “Luckily the then Minister, Mr Brad Hazzard, squashed that proposal for finger wharfs. “In the ‘Gosford, Our City Our Destiny Master Plan’, the old school site was originally zoned as a cultural precinct, after much public comment. “Who changed the zoning to allow an ATO and State Government office complex on the school site? “The CCRDC with State Government approval. “The community/business representation on the CCRDC is heavily weighted in favour of the business/landowners in the CBD. “Indeed, community concerns are overlooked or dismissed.

“A CCRDC bulletin states that they are thrilled with the ATO office decision. “Well the community is not, it is time for the board to go,” Mr Brooks said. According to Mr Brooks, the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) will not be needed now that a new Council covers the whole Central Coast Region. “Those elected must have the responsibility for their decisions on all development, small and large, otherwise, why elect them?” Mr Brooks said. “Sensitive areas and developments should not be shifted sideways to some bureaucratic panel (supposedly independent) for a decision. “In Aussie language, it’s called passing the buck. “The merged Central Coast Council now covers our water catchment area and we, the residents, must be the controlling authority. “We cannot draw water from Sydney and, in times of drought, like the 90s, the Hunter Water Board, with its expanding population, will be unable to divert supply to our expanding area. “So ownership, control and management of our water must remain under local control, by a Central Coast Water Board made up of Council representatives, local community and business leaders. “An amended DA was submitted by the South Korean company some time ago for the extension of the Wallarah 2 Coalmine.

“This is another development that is decided on by an unelected, bureaucrat panel. “The Minister for Planning, Mr Andrew Roberts, should call this DA in and refuse the application. “We have a diverse area from the mountains to the sea. “The Central Coast has its own unpolluted water catchment area. “It cannot rely on Sydney or the Hunter for its water supply. “It has prime agriculture land which brings in $150 million plus a year. “This should be boldly stated and protected by showing all land west of the M1 as reserved for agriculture and preservation of our water supply. “No mining should be permitted within prime agricultural land and water catchment areas. “The Central Coast is a prime example of both. “As human beings, we need food and water, without that, we don’t exist. “I am not sure merging Gosford and Wyong Councils is the way ahead, but the State Government has enforced the merger. “To the State Government I say, ‘stay out of our way and let our new Central Coast Council and Mr Brian Bell (CEO) plan and set a community inspired course for our future that will enhance our quality of life’. “It is a big task and they will need community support and wisdom in their endeavours,” he said.

Source: Media release, Nov 23 Malcolm Brook, Friends of Gosford Pty Ltd