Jetty Foreshores stoush continues as government backflips on promise

CITY of Coffs Harbour councillor and former state Labor candidate Tony Judge has criticised the NSW Government’s backflip on residential development at the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores.

Before the 2023 State Election, in which Mr Judge ran for the seat of Coffs Harbour, NSW Labor committed to halt proposed residential development at the iconic site and keep the land as public recreational space.

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With residents recently informed by Property Development NSW that residential development will now proceed, Mr Judge is calling on the government to honour its election commitment.

“The future of the Jetty Foreshores was a big issue in the recent State Election,” Mr Judge said, highlighting that the commitment to keep the land in public hands was a factor in many residents voting Labor.

A number of Coffs Harbour residents have since contacted Mr Judge to voice their sense of disappointment and even betrayal at the apparent broken promise.

Mr Judge said that getting the original commitment was a long, hard process.

“There was extensive consultation across portfolios and many discussions,” he said.

“The Labor opposition at the time entered into the commitment after a lot of research and had a clear understanding of the need to protect the Jetty Foreshores as public recreational space to cater for population growth in Coffs region over coming decades.”

Mr Judge said the Labor officials had accepted that residential development would change the character of the Jetty Foreshores forever.

“It is so disappointing that they appear to have backflipped on the commitment in government.”

Meanwhile, Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh has released a statement supporting the NSW Government’s work on the Jetty Foreshores project.

“I commend the Minister for Lands and Property, Steve Kamper, for keeping this important project moving forward, just as our community wants,” said Mr Singh.

“This is a great result for Coffs Harbour and it appears the Minister has put the will of the community ahead of politics.”

Mr Singh said a key component of the redevelopment is the new community building at the Foreshores.

“I know there’s plenty of excitement about its opening, which will hopefully happen within weeks,” he said.

“Our re-invigorated Jetty Foreshores, and the Coffs Harbour Bypass, will drive opportunities across the Coffs Coast for generations to come.”

Mr Judge remains unaware of the reasoning behind the backflip on residential development at the Jetty Foreshores and is yet to have contact with the responsible Minister, Steve Kamper.

“I am not sure where the Minister is getting advice, other than from public servants in Sydney,” Mr Judge queried.

“I urge the Minister to consult locally to get across the real issues around the future of the Jetty Foreshores.”

Despite the turnaround, Mr Judge feels the battle for the Jetty Foreshores is not yet lost.

“Councillor Sally Townley and I successfully put a motion to a recent Council Meeting to compulsorily acquire the Jetty Foreshores land to keep it in public hands,” he said.

“I am hopeful that process will lead to discussions with the State Government on a future without private residential development on the Jetty Foreshores.

“As I have always said, the ideal situation in my view is a land swap arrangement where Council acquires the Jetty Foreshores land in return for a parcel of vacant land that could be used for social housing development.”

Mr Judge urges concerned residents to contact the Minister to voice any concerns and ask him to honour the election commitment.

“Trust is hard won, easily lost and even harder to regain,” he said.

“We should all think hard before we break an election promise.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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