COFFS Harbor Town Council has voted to approve a motion to seek a property assessment for a parcel of land between Jordan Esplanade and the North Shore Railway line at Jetty Foreshores.
The land is currently owned by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
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Council’s rationale noted that although the land is “currently the subject of the NSW Government’s concept proposal for the development of residential units”, community consultation has shown that there is a strong appetite for expansion. and upgrading recreational facilities in the Jetty Foreshores area.
Council noted that since Property Development NSW would need to buy the land at market value on current zoning, “the possibility of Council being a buyer can also be explored”.
“An appraisal of the property would allow Council and the community to make an informed decision as to whether an alternative vision based on a public park is best for the area,” Council’s rationale noted.
Mr Garth Shipperlee, who represented the Coffs Harbor Chamber of Commerce at the March 10 Council meeting, said his opposition to the motion was based on three main factors.
Shipperlee said the motion was premature as the NSW Government’s Project Steering Advisory Committee (PSAC) “has not completed its term” and the proposed master plan had “not been published for phase two of the community consultation”.
He also said phase one consultation processes had inspired numbers of community submissions “well above” any level of response for a consultancy project.
“The community consultation priority of phase two will involve the release of the master plan for the project, so the specific views of the community on what they want to see in the area are still unknown,” Mr Shipperlee said.
Meanwhile, local resident Mr Bruce Weir backed the motion, saying the assessment push was ‘the first step in ensuring the community of Coffs Harbor has a say in how the foreshores are developed”.
“Often-expressed views from the community about how development should proceed have been ignored,” Weir told the House.
“These are our Foreshores and it should be our decision, not a decision made by faceless bureaucrats and consultants for hire.”
Shipperlee claimed the motion requesting an valuation of the land “also does not align with what Coffs Harbor City Council said in its own submissions to the State Department of Planning and Environment” in April 2021.
He told the chamber that the assessment was “a waste of residents’ and taxpayers’ money”, saying the land was “not for sale” anyway.
Mr Weir told the chamber that the 2018 community consultations ranked the natural environment as the top priority “drawing tourists and locals to the foreshore”.
The same consultations ranked hotel and tourist accommodation 26th in order of priority, while the supply of residential accommodation was not ranked at all.
The motion requesting a valuation of the land passed seven votes to two.
By Paul Fogarty