Submission in Regard to CCC Land Sale Strategy
From: Kate da Costa <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Submission in regard to CCC Land Sale Strategy
Date: 20 July 2016 1:47:54 pm AEST
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: sue chidgey <email@example.com>
Dear Mr Noble and Mr Hancock
Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission in relation to the process of reclassifiying community land managed by Central Coast Council.
Rather than make a submission on the merits of keeping one or more particular blocks on the current list, I wish to address the process overall, and to urge you to immediately cease this unsafe process and start over.
The first the community knew that any land held by the Council on our behalf (the effective definition, to my mind, of community classified public land) was in September 2015. Councillors voted to endorse the sale of land, subject to the outcome of the land reclassification process (September 15 2015 SF 17).
No community consultation had taken place before that council meeting. Community members, including myself, asked council staff to explain what the Land Sale Strategy was. We expected that staff would be able to outline a series of criteria against which blocks were judged – these would include for instance current and projected population, environmental considerations, proximity to other open space, the circumstances by which the Council had acquired the land and the like. No such list of criteria has ever been provided.
This makes it nearly impossible for community members to make submissions to keep the land – because we don’t know why it was considered surplus.
At the time, and again when other blocks were considered by Council in November 2015, the majority of councillors seemed unable to recognize that they could not approve the sale of community land, and by endorsing a sale before the statutory process had been undertaken, they were prejudging an outcome.
The recent inability of council staff to define whether the Wamberal Memorial Hall stands on community or operational land indicates that after all this time, the land register is in such a poor state that staff simply are unable to confirm the status of much of the Council’s holdings. That alone should be a trigger to cease the process until staff can improve the information available. This is critical because some land, as we understand from older residents, was bequeathed to Council – or the public – in perpetuity. Council simply doesn’t have the right to remove such blocks from the public domain.
There is a legal question to be answered as well, since it may be that reclassifying community land to operational for the specific purpose of selling it, is in conflict with the Act.
I would like to urge, in the strongest possible terms, that this entire process is so flawed, possibly illegal, and poorly handled, that the safest way forward is to stop the Land Sale “Strategy”.
A Council committed to genuine community consultation would start off by scheduling a series of public meetings – at different times of the day, on different days of the week, in different venues, over a series of months – to have a conversation about what are the values that the community places on public land. These should include current and projected demographic needs, environmental (current and future) values, method of acquistion and caveats over the land. Once these values are established, land can be rated compared with them – again, in consultation with the immediate community.
Only then will we be in a position to decide if any land is surplus to requirements.
Only then will the Council be acting in good faith as the custodian of land which actually belongs to us.
Kate da Costa