Community concerns fall on deaf ears

If the Central Coast community believe that the Region is served by a council, then they are wrong. Decisions are made by one individual alone – decisions that it would seem are to suit the current government’s agenda.


At the 28 February 2023 Ordinary Council meeting Administrator Rik Hart claimed that the Gosford’s waterfront revitalisation project is moving forward following very positive community feedback to “just get on with it”! But how does Council's decision sit with the Gosford community?

Council's preferred concept plan of the Gosford waterfront development.

10 March 2023



ACCORDING to the Gosford Waterfront Alliance (GWA), Council’s claim of 59% public support for the Gosford Waterfront is inconsistent with the Council’s pledge of honesty and transparency  with its residents and ratepayers.


Yet Council’s Director for Environment and Planning Alice Howe said the community consultation provided important feedback, including good suggestions to improve on the Concept Plan.


“Without a doubt there is strong support for a revitalised waterfront – which will form an anchor of a revitalised Gosford CBD.


“Feedback received during the public exhibition of the Gosford Waterfront and Stadium Concept Plan opt-in consultation and independent market research survey, revealed 81.5% and 93% positive feedback, respectively.


“The feedback included comments and suggestions on the need for additional parking, support for increased recreational opportunities along the waterfront, how to address the Central Coast Highway ‘barrier’ to ensure easy connections to the waterfront from the CBD, and also the question of public land being used for residential development.”


A GWA spokesperson said that at the last December 2022 meeting the council presented the following figures:


  • 6425  visits familiarised themselves through to the Council interactive concept plan website; and


  • Of the 6425 familiarised visitors through the interactive website, only 2084 (32.5%) gave a thumbs reaction (up or down). Thumbs up or down is not reflective of a global individual support or rejection for the project. An individual may give a thumb up or down because of a unique element or some elements of the project, not the total project.


More interesting is the fact that the rest of the 4341 familiarised visitors gave it a no thumbs up or down reaction at all (at best they are a disengaged public who went through the trouble of navigating the Council website).


“Of the 6425 familiarised visitors, only 676 (10.5%) made comments on the interactive site,” said the GWA spokesperson.


“Hardly a good measure of public engagement with this expensive  project.


“Assuming the 59% public support came from the 676 comments on the interactive site, PLUS those 50 or so individuals who made direct submissions to Council, then at best only 430 people, or 6% of the total familiarised population agrees with it.


“Put simply, NO responsible public holding corporation would proceed investing on a project delivering an extensive liability to a product when market research shows  less than 6% of TOTAL surveyed potential customers agree with the product .


“So, why should this Council, with some $300 million in borrowings, waste our precious rate payers money on a project that less than 1/15 informed resident agrees with?”


Local government democracy doesn’t exist on the Central Coast and residents have become increasingly concerned that “any protests and/or petitions over the continual delays in making any kind of decision have fallen on deaf ears”. Yet council seems to have no problem in rezoning public land and offloading it to greedy developers, who's only concern appears to be filling their own pockets while allowing much of the Coast to slide further into a slum.


Margaret Lamacraft said, on the GWA Facebook page, “I was astounded to hear on the local news this morning (1 March 2023) the Administrator claim they (Council) have had 90% positive response from the public on this (Gosford Waterfront revitalisation) proposal, so they are pushing ahead.”


“Not only that, but council can suddenly find an extra $2.2 mil to push ahead,” she said.


“This while we ratepayers are being squeezed by higher rates just to pay off the debt incurred by the previous incompetent council. Let me state loudly and clearly that I am one of the disgruntled 10% who would like the hands of greedy developers kept away from the waterfront.”


So, why does Administrator Rik Hart claim that there is overwhelming community support for the Gosford Waterfront proposal? Mr Hart said, “Now that we know there is strong support from both the general public and business community for this project to continue, we urge whomever forms government after the March 2023 NSW state election to provide $8.5 million to undertake a business case and Master Plan for the Gosford Waterfront precinct.”


A number of questions about the waterfront proposal are still unanswered:


  • Given Narara Creek’s ferocious flow through the viaduct opening mid-tide and/or in flood, will you be able to safely launch a boat down the ramp at left beside the viaduct?


  • What height of boat mast can pass at high tide on a flood under the pedestrian bridge in the centre? Or is it acceptable that the marina may only focus on power-boats (cf. sustainability/ fuel sources, which currently exclude electric motors on)?


  • Given a presumed inability to provide cost-effective basement parking at the complex, will there be sufficient visitor or customer parking associated with the unit blocks, hotels, marina activities, ferry terminus and commercial activities?


  • Where will parking be located, additional to the small triangle between the stadium and railway line? CBD, Dane Drive and Masons Parade areas are already overloaded.


  • Given the number of creeks that flow from east, north and west into the proposed-to-be enclosed, already shallow “basin” area, what does hydrological modelling say about a need for repeated dredging, and at whose cost?


  • What threatened seagrasses (e.g. Posodonia australis) or other endangered species in this shallow waterway will be affected, and what mitigation is offered?


  • Brisbane Water views south from Dane Drive/Central Coast Highway and environs will largely be blocked – is that publicly acceptable as a trade-off for this proposal? Who loses what, who gains what and at what cost?


  • During a southerly or East Coast Low with their storm surges pushing the length of Brisbane Water, what will happen within the basin?


  • What will happen to nearby vehicular traffic management, where pinch-points already exist?


  • Is this development a huge loss of public land (principally the seafloor and foreshore) to mostly benefit private owners? Will it be leasehold? How is the public interest protected or enhanced, long term? Will the proposal actually revitalise the CBD as intended, at an acceptable public cost and with sufficient protections of the natural environment?


So, until all the pros and cons are dealt with to the communities satisfaction, Council Administrator Rik Hart cannot claim “Revitalisation of the Gosford waterfront is the Central Coast’s key enabling project." Nor can Mr Mr Hart claim that "It re-imagines the waterfront as not only a major opportunity for the city’s renewal, but a chance for Gosford City to join the great waterfronts of the world.”


Activist Norm Harris said that the Council waterfront report contained an "embarrassing number" of errors and was "inaccurate and misleading".


"The report is obviously providing the narrative the Council wants," he said.

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