26 July 2015
Gosford Council has recently proposed a review of environmental lands, re-examination of the urban fringe and placed on exhibition planning proposals to rezone numerous small lots across the local government area. Greens Councillor Hillary Morris has been working to slow down the process to allow residents to have their say. She has also made certain that Gosford’s unique Coastal Open Space Scheme (COSS) has been excluded from the review. Central Coast Greens share Clr Morris’ concerns about the speed of this process, the lack of community consultation and the proposals to rezone bushland and conservation areas for residential development.
When Council updated its Local Environment Plan (LEP) some years ago, some areas were difficult to redefine under the more restricted state government zoning system. This land, including Council’s well-regarded COSS lands, have remained under old zoning systems, so the Council has proposed a review in order to rezone them according to the new system.
“I am pleased that I have been able to confirm that COSS lands are excluded from the review and the COSS strategy will be continued” said Clr Hillary Morris. “I commend Council for persevering with seeking to convince the government to create a separate zoning for COSS (E5), as COSS lands are community owned nature reserves and not part of the E1 National Parks & Nature Reserves Zoning”.
However, as part of the review, Council staff propose revising the definition of the urban fringes. Central Coast Greens and Clr Morris are concerned that the review will allow further greenfield development within the Gosford Local Government area despite the Central Coast Regional Strategy recognising that Council should focus on urban infill rather than expand into rural lands.
“We already have extensive urban sprawl east of the freeway, and too few green belts protecting our smaller villages and towns” said Greens spokesperson Kate da Costa. “There is a growing recognition that our natural bushland and attractive small farmholdings are the basis for sustainable tourism, and a good part of the reason people move to the Central Coast. High infrastructure costs mean it makes sense to concentrate residential building in existing town centres.”
The Council’s own Biodiversity Strategy says “This concentration of urban development in the existing urban footprint assists in biodiversity conservation and management by minimising disturbance to the natural vegetated areas.”
Council has also put on exhibition on July 17 an extensive planning proposal to rezone numerous small blocks across the LGA, but only gave residents a fortnight to make submissions. Clr Morris will move an urgency motion this week to extend the submission period for four weeks, and ensure that in the future, Council allows a 6 week exhibition period for any rezoning planning proposals.
“Our environmental landscape is precious to both visitors and residents alike and needs to be protected.” Said Clr Morris.
Gosford City Council
Tel: 02 4325 8229
Fax: 02 4323 6268
Mobile: 0427 717 028