Gosford City Centre Masterplan ignored by developers

Letters to the editor

What a tawdry affair has emerged from the dirt and rubble of what was the former Gosford Primary School site (Performing Arts Centre will not be included in former school site; Coast Community News Edition 176, February 15).

This historic school, located on prime land on the Gosford waterfront, was demolished on the pretext of a commitment to build a regional performing arts centre on the site. This was in line with extensive community consultations and the incorporation of this vision into the Gosford City Centre Masterplan, developed by council members and other experts, and endorsed by the State Government.

The Masterplan clearly identified that the community wanted this area to be part of the city’s Arts and Entertainment precinct. However, instead of the promised performing arts centre, which was clearly identified on this lot in the Masterplan, we now have not one, but two waterfront offices under construction, which will apparently house public servants. The latest slap in the face has one of the developers; St Hilliers, confirming that the second parcel of land from the school demolition will be purchased for a paltry $9.5m, but may provide a final market value of around $200m. The arrogance of the developer is apparent in their complete sidelining of the Gosford Masterplan, saying instead: “The regional performing arts centre was never considered as part of our master plan.” The total lack of transparency in how these developments were allowed to occur continues, with the St Hilliers’ representative stating; their “recent market research” showed that people wanted good quality and affordable food options and urban experiences, with no mention at all of the performing arts centre.

The developer provides no information on the independence of the market research, the methodology used or comprehensive reporting on the findings. Instead, the community is fed cherry-picked recommendations in a media release, to justify what the developer obviously intended to do all along on their Masterplan. The reality is that these developers, who are obviously well connected, did a very good deal when they were given free rein to build these rather cheap and dull government offices on this valuable site.

This was done, irrespective of the desires of the broader community, with these buildings being sold off for a tidy profit before the final bricks are even laid. To suggest that this initiative “will fund new and improved infrastructure for the people of NSW” is a further affront, as it is the local community who will be the worse-off with these developments. So much for “Our City, Our Destiny,” which was the vision for the original Masterplan. The community will not forget this betrayal of trust in allowing these developers to build entirely inappropriate buildings on a site which could have provided a stunning gateway to the region. The officials responsible for supporting this architectural disaster on our waterfront should consider new career paths prior to the next election.

Email, Feb 23 Dr Tahir Turk, Somersby