Councillor Mehrtens not happy with ward based approach to strategic planning

Richard Mehrtens

Gosford West Ward Councillor, Richard Mehrtens, is not happy with Central Coast Council’s recent decision to adopt a ward based approach to strategic planning for the region over the next 20 years.
Councillors passed a motion from Deputy Mayor, Jane Smith, at Council’s October 8 meeting, which will see Local Strategic Planning Statements (LSPS) prepared following ward based community consultations.
At the time, Clr Smith said the move would avoid “one size fits all” solutions and preserve the “special character and values” which need to be preserved for each ward.
But Clr Mehrtens, who was the only councillor to vote against the motion, insists that it’s not a good idea.
Clr Mehrtens said the move would require work already done by council staff built around eight planning districts to be redone on a ward basis.
“I don’t think wards are the best way to plan the region as they are perfunctory bureaucratic areas to determine equal numbers of voters, not necessarily representing communities of interest,” he said.
“As an example, a ward based approach would necessarily break Mangrove Mountain in two, as despite it being one area for all intents and purposes, it falls into Wyong Ward and Gosford West Ward.
“This could result in different planning expectations of the area depending if it was the Wyong Ward part or the Gosford West Ward part.
“In a non ward based method of LSPS preparation, the Mountain would be its own planning district, as would seven other key economic and social areas, reflecting better town planning considerations than an arbitrary ward designation.”
But Clr smith said the ward-based approach would reflect the diverse areas of the region and their future land use needs.
“As councillors, we have a responsibility to engage with residents in our ward on such important matters as the 20 year vision,” she said.
“Planning should be about people, place and communities, protecting the things that we love while planning for the future.”
The LSPS needs to be delivered by July 1, 2020.

Agenda item 7.2
Central Coast Council Meeting, Oct 8
Media release, Oct 11
Deputy Mayor, Jane Smith
Media statement, Oct 24
Central Coast Councillor, Richard Mehrtens

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