Jetty Plan Announcement Doesn’t Go To Plan – social media backlash forces politicians into damage control

(L to R) Cr. Paul Amos, Cr. George Cecato, Mr. Dajon Veldman, Minister Ms. Melinda Pavey and Mr. Gurmesh Singh announce the beginning of a new planning process for the Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshore Precinct. (original)

 

MELINDA Pavey, the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, and Gurmesh Singh, the Member for Coffs Harbour, were expecting to deliver a routine announcement about the formation of a committee to steer planning for the Jetty Foreshore Precinct last Friday.

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Ms. Pavey began by talking about her long term involvement with the Jetty area.

“We want to ensure that this is an asset for the people of Coffs Harbour,” she said.

She added that planning will involve maintaining green space and looking after the ‘heart and soul of Coffs’.

Ms. Pavey announced that $5 million will be available initially for planning and to provide better pedestrian access.

The remaining $15 million will be used for upgrading utilities in the Precinct.

Mr.Singh said, “Coffs Harbour is a fantastic place for people to come to and we have to make sure that we have the services they need.”

The Deputy Mayor of Coffs Harbour, Cr. George Cecato, said, “This will give us the opportunity to complete what was started many years ago.”

However, questions from a bystander appeared to unsettle the Minister who stepped back to allow Mr. Singh to provide answers.

Since the announcement, hundreds of comments on social media have been overwhelmingly negative about the ‘draft concept plan’ that was part of the media release.

Many commenters are concerned that this plan shows a retirement village in the Fishing Club area, residential development on the land east of the railway station and a range of tourist accommodation facilities.

There is also disquiet that previous community consultation has been ignored.

These concerns persist even though the steering committee is composed of a broad range of Coffs Harbour residents and that the plan is clearly labelled as a draft.

During the announcement, both Mr. Singh and Dajon Veldman, a consultant who will be leading community consultation, made it clear that the process is about planning to engage the community and that no decisions have been made.

Mr. Singh stated, “There are absolutely no ‘done deals.’”

“This is about creating a master plan and over the next nine months that master plan will be revised.”

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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