A new self-appointed Central Coast Environmental Advisory Committee has attended its first meeting with the Greater Cities Commissioner for the Central Coast, Robyn Parker, in what they describe as a positive step.
The group formed recently in response to the proposed six city concept from Wollongong to Newcastle via three Sydney cities and the Central Coast making up the sixth.
The Greater Cities Commission (GCC), has recently been incorporated into the State Government Department of Planning and Environment, but it still maintains its name, structure, staff and statutory body status.
Group spokesperson Lisa Bellamy said: “With the GCC’s projections of 10’s of thousands of new residents moving into the area our goal in the meeting was to get a clear understanding of what the this could mean for the Central Coast, especially in regard to the natural environment.
“While we still haven’t got total clarity around the Commissions plans, we are starting to understand the big picture and what the role of our committee may look like,” Ms Bellamy said.
“So far there have been no measures taken to ensure that our precious environment will be meaningfully represented as the GCC plan moves forward, so our committee is very hopeful that this meeting now marks the start of a productive relationship with Ms Parker, and the GCC, to bring the natural environment of the Central Coast to the fore when decisions are being made.
“Our committee will also endeavour to ensure the community are not only well informed but will have their voices heard during the planning stages.”
Ms Bellamy said Robyn Parker assured the group that the GCC was determined to ensure “what we love about the Central Coast will not be lost” while building a city that can house the proposed increase in population.
The population of the Central Coast is about 348,379, with expected growth to 404,250 people by 2041.
Central Coast Council’s operational plan for this year outlines the roles the Department of Planning and the GCC have on the coast.
“In October 2022, the Department of Planning and Environment released its Central Coast Regional Plan 2041, replacing its previous 2036 plan that was published in 2016,” Council said.
“The new plan recognises the continued growth of the area, aiming to not only bring future investment to the Coast, but meet population changes through diverse housing supply, building existing neighbourhoods that provide easy access to everyday goods and services, continued expansion of essential infrastructure, and cherishing the natural areas of the Coast.”
The GCC released its Central Coast Strategy for Economic Growth in January 2023.
“The Strategy specifically focuses on more jobs and economic growth of the region, aligning with the Regional Plan and with Council’s focus,” Council said.
“In developing the Strategy, the GCC identifies seven priorities: 1. Driving innovation and industry collaboration 2. Unlocking employment land and accelerating employment precincts 3. Activating a university campus in a revitalised Gosford CBD 4. Building on the Gosford Health and Wellbeing Precinct 5. Improving transport connections within the Central Coast and with Sydney and Newcastle 6. Delivering a high-speed internet network 7. Improving planning processes to accelerate development approvals.”
Ms Bellamy said the advisory committee had brought many groups together and they were still in talks with others keen to join.
She said Ms Parker expressed her willingness for clear communication and future meetings with the group.
Council Watch has contacted Ms Parker for comment.