Somersby to Erina growth corridor to be focal point

Aerial view of parts of the Somersby employment areaAerial view of parts of the Somersby employment area

The Somersby to Erina growth corridor is likely to be a focal point for the NSW Government and Central Coast Council in 2019, according to a draft strategy considered by councillors.

It is set to protect the area’s history and landscape whist providing certainty for land owners and developers. A new use for the Old Sydney Town site is also touted. According to the Central Coast Regional Plan, precinct planning is due to take place for Somersby Business Park, Mount Penang and Kariong, to expand employment in the regional gateway. Central Coast Councillors voted to place the Draft Somersby to Erina Growth Corridor Strategy on exhibition for 60 days, but that period has not yet commenced and it is unclear when it will be exhibited. It refers to the Somersby Industrial area as the “second largest industrial node north of Central Sydney”, as a “successful industrial node and an “important strategic asset”. However, the corridor strategy acknowledges that future demand is projected to be modest, based on new census data, growth in manufacturing, transport uses and construction.

“More work is required to understand future demand for industrial land, and investigating broader trends and advancements in technology that might influence demand and supply. “Is the remaining land suitable, well-serviced, affordable and developable?” Currently around 50 per cent (159 hectares) of the Somersby precinct is undeveloped and a significant portion of that land is impacted by environmental and archaeological constraints. However, NSW Planning and Central Coast Council state that their vision for Somersby is the “continued success of the Somersby Employment area which continues to attract new and diverse businesses and investment. “The services, quick bus link to Gosford Town Centre and bush setting, make Somersby a beautiful and inspiring place to work, and businesses can attract great staff,” the draft Somersby precinct strategy said.

The draft strategy does acknowledge the area’s rich Aboriginal history. The area is particularly known for its rock art and sites that contain Aboriginal objects and are of Aboriginal heritage significance, and actions are required to protect and enhance them to ensure that their value is preserved for future generations,” it said. “Further studies are required to ascertain the future demand and supply of industrial lands to ensure that the Somersby employment area continues to grow and service the needs of the corridor and broader region. “Following the implementation of a Plan of Management and a clearer understanding of the development capacity of the remaining land, Council will undertake an employment lands study that will consider projections for all employment types, and assess the supply of both industrial and commercially zoned land. “In the meantime, it is important that industrial land is reserved for industrial uses and rezoning applications are resisted.”

Aerial view of parts of the Somersby employment area

Aerial view of parts of the Somersby employment area

Another action in the strategy is for Council to prepare a brief and engage consultants to consider options for the future use of the Old Sydney Town site, to inform discussions with the landowner. The strategy recommends amending the Development Control Plan to implement the existing 2005 Somersby Plan of Management “and provide certainty for industrial land owners and developers. “The new DCP should clearly identify and provide clear guidance for development in areas of high value vegetation and areas of Aboriginal or archaeological significance,” the draft strategy said. Council will also seek funding for, and then commission, a public domain strategy for the Somersby employment area.

It also outlines a “catalyst project” in the form of a Somersby Hub, a place to meet and relax during the working day. The strategy could result in 11 per cent of new dwelling requirements on the Central Coast being located along the Corridor between Somersby and Erina. It could also result in a population increase of 6,495 residents or eight per cent of the anticipated 75,500 population growth expected for the Central Coast by 2036.

The forecast jobs growth, an increase of 9,866 jobs, is estimated to generate $5,010m net gross value added (GVA) for the Central Coast LGA. Catalyst projects identified in the strategy include a Somersby to Erina Rapid Transit Bus Route, the Gosford Great Weekender Trail, a food and entertainment festival at Central Coast Mariners home games and Mount Penang Forest Trails.

The ‘Southern Growth Corridor’ now known as the Somersby to Erina Corridor, describes the centres along the Central Coast Highway between Somersby and Erina: Somersby, Mount Penang/ Kariong, West Gosford, Gosford City Centre, East Gosford/Point Frederick and Erina. The purpose of the Corridor Strategy is to provide: a vision for the Corridor at a local and state level; a policy that supports the State Government and Council‘s decisions about land use planning; a framework for assessing DAs and Planning Proposals; a guide on how to prioritise public spending; a basis for collaboration with Transport for NSW regarding the proposed Rapid Transit bus service; and, a plan to market and celebrate the many great businesses and events in Gosford.

“The strategy aims to not compromise those attributes that the community have identified that make the area such a unique and desirable place to live and work,” a Council staff report said. A number of development options were assessed against planning, economic, transport and liveability criteria, to determine a preferred development approach for the Corridor. The preferred development option was one with a focus on Gosford City Centre and the provision of a Rapid Transit Bus system. It seeks to concentrate investment in Gosford City Centre, support job growth and provide adequate land for population growth. Key aspects include to maintain the employment focus and zoning in West Gosford and Erina centre, and to maintain and support the industrial zone in Somersby.

Residential development will be focused in existing centres of Gosford CBD, East Gosford and Point Frederick in the short to moderate term, with the most density in Gosford City Centre. The Corridor will be promoted as one of the State’s best weekender destinations. The proposed “Great Weekender Trail” Catalyst Project will help promote weekend tourism, anchored by food and drinks, art and culture, sport and festivals, and events at Mount Penang. “The success of the Corridor and Gosford City Centre as a Regional Centre will be reliant on creating six successful centres within the Corridor – each with their own unique role and character.

“Maximising active and public transport connections between activity nodes and between centres, and Gosford to Sydney, is central to the success of each centre. “The proposed new Rapid Transit Bus network connecting all centres to Gosford in under 10 minutes, is the priority action for transport in the Corridor. “The Corridor already accommodates a great variety of cultural activities, landscape and natural attractions, and cottage industries. “Collectively, with further planning, a strategically located trail could ensure that these existing attractions, and the walk or cycle between them, can be a destination in its own right.

“The Trail could also form the basis for future civic and cultural activities. “The Corridor faces some major risks including bushfires, flooding, inundation from rising water levels, traffic congestion, and lack of public transport connectivity across the Corridor. “Planning for resilience across the Corridor is essential to respond to changes associated with population increases and risks posed by changing weather patterns.” The Corridor Strategy will be used to formulate character statements for each centre in a new comprehensive Development Control Plan.

Source: Agenda item 2.2, Nov 12 Central Coast Council ordinary meeting Draft Somersby to Erina Corridor Strategy, Nov 12 Central Coast Council