Objection to $150M Central Coast Quarter development

An artist’s impression of the waterfront precinct once the former Gosford School site is fully developed. Archive 2018

The $150M Central Coast Quarter development planned for the southern end of Mann St, Gosford, has reached the assessment stage with the NSW Department of Planning, with submissions on the proposal now having closed.

The development application, from the St Hilliers group, is being considered for approval as a State Significant Development, with 10 submissions having been received, mostly from government departments, and with one lengthy submission of objection from the Community Environment Network (CEN).
The development would see an integrated mixed-use precinct in excess of 20 storeys, with a hotel, residential apartments, food, beverage and retail outlets, and multiple public thoroughfares on a site adjacent to the finance building.
CEN Executive Member, Michael Conroy, submitted an objection to the proposal, based largely on its failure to comply with height and floor space ratio limits set out under the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).
“Our membership is approximately 400, including 90 groups with an affiliated membership of approximately 5,000,” the submission says.
It claims that the applicant has “failed to demonstrate design excellence” by minimising costs involved in development, design studies and preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
“The introduction of clauses 8.3 and 8.4 (in the State Environmental Planning Policy) has not only introduced flexible development standards for the Gosford City Centre, it has provided a process where the goal posts can be moved,” it says.
“Development controls can be changed as a development progresses from the masterplan stage to the detailed development application stage.”
The submission says that due to the “corruption risk” which could arise from the new clauses, the development application for the proposal should be turned over to the Independent Planning Commission.
But the applicant has submitted a response prepared by consultant group Urbis, to matters raised in this and other submissions from such bodies as The Environment Protection Authority, the Office of Environment and Heritage, Transport for NSW, Central Coast Local Health District and Central Coast Council, outlining refinements to be made to the original proposal.
“While the proposal breaks the height and floor space controls, this is considered warranted, having regard to its compliance with Clause 8.4 of the SEPP,” the response says.
“The amount of commercial floor space is considered appropriate, as the Social and Economic Impact Assessment demonstrated that it will: complement the existing space in Gosford City Centre and improve the overall offer in the local area; provide higher quality commercial space that will attract new businesses into the town centre; deliver highly accessible commercial space that is well serviced by public transport; and add to the town centre’s attractiveness, operational efficiency and convenience as a precinct for workers, residents and visitors.”
The response said economic benefits would include: delivery of 62 direct jobs and 97 indirect jobs over the five-year development phase; delivery of 250 direct jobs through the ongoing operation of the retail, commercial, and hotel components of the development, and a further 8 indirect jobs from flow-on-effects; and contribution of $36.9M to the economy on an annual ongoing basis.
“The proposal has been refined, where appropriate, to respond to comments raised by all stakeholders,” it says.
Following assessment of the submissions and the applicant’s response, the Department will issue a recommendation in regard to approval of the project.

NSW Planning Department Major Planning website, Mar 31