On 27 September 2022, the Council Administrator appointed by the NSW government adopted a preferred concept plan for the development of Gosford Waterfront and Stadium. The lack of transparency in this process has been staggering.
Although there will be a range of views about the future of the Gosford waterfront, we should all be concerned about the lack of information and the haste to change planning rules before a State election and without local elected representatives in place to represent the interests of residents, ratepayers and the community.
The report to Council refers to “three distinct concept options”, “extensive analysis” and “stakeholder consultation” - however, none of this information was included in the Council report for public information or scrutiny.
It is also worth noting that there was previously a Gosford CBD and Waterfront Advisory Committee, established to provide advice to Council. The committee played an important role in two-way communication on relevant matters and ensuring transparency. The committee was effectively disbanded with their last meeting held in March 2021.
It was then in April 2021 that the Administrator (Persson) decided to proceed with investigations for development of the waterfront.
One of the matters that the Gosford CBD and Waterfront Advisory Committee considered at its meeting on 21 November 2019 was a study from Cardno that modelled traffic movement in Gosford CBD. It showed that there were a number of pinch points that were already at capacity. It was clear that this would be a useful tool for future planning in the Gosford CBD.
The same meeting also referenced the Gosford City Centre Transport Plan that the State government was preparing. Both these documents should be made publicly available.
The Administrator (Hart) is now talking about a community consultation process on his preferred option—however, there are serious concerns that this will be a sham process. The community should have a say on all three concept options.
To have any faith in this process, all information must be released to the public. This includes concept options, analysis, traffic modelling and details of stakeholder consultation, including with developers. There can be no reason for this information to be confidential and hidden from the public.