NEWS THAT MATTERS

Just not good enough

The Community Environment Network (CEN), the Central Coast’s peak environmental organisation, says the Central Coast Council’s draft plan of management for over 2100 individual parcels of community land grouped into 400 sites could fail to meet its legal obligations under the NSW Local Government Act and Regulations.

Walkers enjoy a picnic at Rumbalara, designated community land.

24 February 2023

 

THE CEN submission on Council’s Community Land ‘Plan of Management’ has called for a complete rethink! CEN Chair Gary Chestnut said “We understand that Council needs to fix problems with its management of community land. Some land has never been given a category and other land has, according to the council, been given the wrong category. The exhibited draft plan of management and the schedule of land are just not good enough.”

 

“The Local Government Act is crystal clear about what plans of management for community land are supposed to do and the generic plan exhibited by Central Coast Council fails to explain how the council will manage its most important public land to preserve its qualities,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

CEN’s submission outlines multiple problems with the way the council has conducted the public consultation on the draft plan of management and on the classification or reclassification of around 400 community land sites across the Coast.

 

“There were not enough public hearings and the hearings did not go for long enough,” CEN’s submission points out.

 

CEN has opposed the council's intention to replace site- and category-specific plans of management with a generic plan of management for the 400 sites.

 

“We believe this approach will result in poor outcomes for the community and the local environment and we’ve asked Central Coast Council to slow down and have a rethink,” Mr Chestnut said. “Any site that includes more than one class of community land needs to have its own plan of management and so do sites that are clearly of long-term value to the community.

 

“CEN is especially alarmed by the approach the council has taken to land classified as Natural Areas which includes bushland, wetlands, escarpment, watercourse, foreshore or any other area prescribed under the Act.

 

“For Natural Areas Council must ‘conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem function’ while permitting access to the land in a manner that will ‘minimise and mitigate any disturbance caused by human intrusion’.

 

“The exhibited Plan of Management appears to give the council authority to open up Natural Areas for more use and development and, in our view, that could be unlawful,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

The CEN submission is available on its website home page under Latest News.

 

“We will now turn our attention to looking at the Schedule of Community land and, before 1 March, when submissions close, we will be sending Council a list of how we believe sites should be categorised. We encourage the community to do the same.

 

“We are deeply concerned that over 100 existing pieces of bushland and wetland have suddenly been reclassified, as part of this exhibition, as parks and for general use.”

 

CEN will be holding a webinar at 7pm on Wednesday, 22 February to assist community members who want to write their own submissions or have concerns about how land has been classified in their local areas.

 

“CEN does not believe Council has conducted its community consultation in the right spirit and we encourage the community to join our webinar if they need an understanding of this process and help to write their own submissions.”

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