The Ourimbah Land Use Strategy and Masterplan has been sent back to the drawing board, because Central Coast Mayor, Lisa Matthews, says “we haven’t got it right yet”.
Ourimbah residents packed Gosford Chambers for the Central Coast Council meeting on October 28, and speakers on their behalf gave comprehensive presentations against the Masterplan.
They say the Masterplan is poorly planned, prerequisite planning is not finalised, community consultation is lacking, feedback and concerns have been ignored, building height and yield bonuses plus parking concessions are unacceptable, bushfire and flooding issues are not addressed and Ourimbah’s character, history and natural beauty is not retained.
Ourimbah Region Residents’ Association (ORRA) is calling for an independent review.
“It is flawed and will destroy the village”, says resident Greg McGill, who addressed the meeting.
“The key to the whole Masterplan is the extension of Jacques St to the north.
“Council says it will not acquire properties but will let development occur as properties are sold and developers choose to develop, this is absurd.
“The whole concept is flawed.
“The ink isn’t yet dry on our submissions to the draft Urban Spatial Plan … those submissions should be given a fair hearing.
“We know the community is strongly opposed to the plan for Ourimbah.”
McGill said Council had sought submissions from the community but then totally ignored them and that no consideration had been given to existing residents, only to new development and developers.
He said planning officers had rejected requests for a public meeting and invitations to attend the ORRA meetings.
“With regards to parking and shops, the devil’s in the detail here,” McGill said
“There’s no specific information about which sites have relaxed parking requirements and there’s no mention about the future of the existing shops that need highway exposure to survive.
“Are they going to be demolished or allowed to continue?
“The Masterplan does not include any bushfire maps or proper risk evaluation for several areas, including the village centre.
“Council says the character and natural beauty will be preserved but obviously, again, not true.
“Please send this ill-conceived plan back to council staff to re-evaluate and prepare a realistic plan.”
Brian Davies also spoke at the meeting against the Masterplan, citing a serious flooding problem not addressed. “The draft Ourimbah Creek flood plan says that the rail facility (at Kangy Angy) will have no impact on floods but we have photos from residents who live in that area showing floods across that land and testimony to show that the site does flood now, especially since it’s had hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of fill put on the site.
“There are concerns that the whole of Ourimbah basin is going to be badly impacted by the damming of the channel that the floods go through.
“Council’s flood plan as it currently stands shows the whole of that Kangy Angy site as a flood storage and so, with the fill on it now, that water has to go somewhere else and we’re concerned it will back up into Ourimbah Creek and back up Burns Rd and effectively back up to the university,” Davies said.
Davies’ comments prompted further debate later in the meeting on another matter before Council, the report on Wyong River and Ourimbah Creek Floodplain Risk Management Study and Plan, and ultimately those plans were also put on hold for further investigation in order to align them with the Ourimbah Masterplan. (See separate article)
The aim of the Masterplan is to present a 20-year vision for growth while protecting the area’s unique character and sensitive setting, yet it has been met with continuing opposition including a petition organised by The Entrance MP, David Mehan.
He told NSW Parliament in September that he was “surprised” that Council’s Masterplan for the region did not give due regard to the preservation of the heritage of the area and the opportunities for tourism.
“Instead, Council’s Masterplan promotes higher density for the area, including four storey buildings throughout the Ourimbah village precinct where there are heritage dwellings,” he said.
He told Parliament that Council needed to revisit the masterplan because there was an opportunity to preserve the heritage and “do something good for the Coast”.
Mayor, Lisa Matthews, told councillors that during a meeting that day “the State Member thought we were on the right track but still has some concerns”.
The Mayor gained unanimous support for her Motion to defer adoption of the Masterplan.
“It is clear that the community is seeking more input and for us to revisit some of the issues that they have presented to us”, she said.
Council will now review the plan and its correlation to the draft Urban Spatial Plan, the Local Strategic Planning Statement and the Ourimbah Creek Flood Plan.
The history of this plan goes back to 2011 when the former Wyong Council entered into an agreement with the University of Newcastle and TAFE NSW to prepare a masterplan for the future growth of Ourimbah with the view of developing “the town centre into an education, training, research and recreational precinct in order to deliver significant economic and social benefits to the region”.
The Ourimbah Land Use Strategy and Masterplan was a key planning project in the Wyong Shire Strategic Plan 2014-15.
A first version of the plan went public in 2016 and following many submissions, the document was significantly revised and the draft final plan went on public exhibition earlier in 2019.
There were 140 formal submissions and about 22,000 online visits through social media or website, with the most common concerns being the town centre heritage and character, building heights, retail, traffic, parking as well as hazards such as bushfire, flood and biodiversity.
Over the years, ORRA has successfully battled various plans for out-of-character developments, most notably, a four storey, 101 room boarding house in 2013 which met with two Land and Environment Court cases and the developer losing on both counts.
Meeting, Oct 28
Agenda item 4.4
Central Coast Council
Hansard, Sept 24
Journalist, Sue Murray