Council is suggesting the $1.4M put aside to buy Davistown wetlands be moved on to another new fund – a Central Coast Conservation Fund.
The new fund would aim to achieve environmental benefits for the community across a broader geographic range within the Central Coast.
It follows on from Council-under-administration deciding in April last year to give up on trying to buy at least some of the 17 privately owned properties that are considered to be part of the Davistown Wetlands.
These lots are constrained in terms of development potential as they are either partially or entirely mapped within the Coastal Wetland Zone of the Resilience and Hazards State Environmental Planning Policy 2021, according to Council.
The 17 private properties or part properties remain in a relatively natural state, the latest council report states.
Council has been trying to buy some of the land for years.
“Despite attempts by both the former Gosford City Council and Central Coast Council to purchase several of the properties within the Davistown Wetlands, agreement on the sale price has not been reached,” Council said.
A report to the November 22 meeting recommends the Administrator Rik Hart agree to moving the money to the new fund.
“It is proposed that a draft policy to govern the operations of a Central Coast Conservation Fund be prepared and publicly exhibited to assist in informing Council’s future consideration of establishing the Fund.
“The draft policy is proposed to include overarching principles to be applied to the Central Coast Conservation Fund and will define how the balance of the fund can be spent,” the report said.
Back in 2018, when we had councillors, Cr Troy Marquart urged council to “get on” with trying to buy the land.
At the time, a staff note to the councillors said the former Gosford City Council established both a policy to acquire the wetland parcels and a direct mechanism to fund the purchase, in the form of an acquisition fund.
“Numerous Federal and State Government grants are available to maintain and improve the wetlands in question which would facilitate inter connectivity with the local community,” the report said.
“The wetlands need to be in public ownership to obtain such grants.
“Central Coast Council has recently confirmed that the sum of $1,436,049.00 is held to specifically facilitate the purchase of wetlands in Davistown, fully funded by the sale of Council owned residential land at Davistown.”
In 2019, Cr Marquart tried again.
If the council can’t buy the parcels of land, please come back with a report on other ways council can acquire the land, he asked and had unanimous support from his fellow councillors.
In August 2020 the councillors were told about some of the land that: “The counter offer from Illoura Waters Pty Ltd is so far above the two independent valuations obtained by Council that it is unrealistic that a mutually agreeable price will be reached.
“Due to this reason and to comply with both the former Gosford and Wyong Council Land Transaction Policies, it is recommended that Council cease negotiations immediately,” the staff report concluded.
In April 2021, the council-under-administration decided to discontinue any negotiations.
It also ruled that Council would not commence compulsory acquisition of the Davistown Wetlands.