The Community Environment Network (CEN) has welcomed the decision by Central Coast Council to give the community three weeks to provide feedback on its plan to reclassify, rezone and then sell off 27 lots of community land.
“This proposed land sale includes parcels from Norah Head and Toukley in the north to Ettalong and Umina in the south so the whole Central Coast community needs to take note of the assets - the environmental land, open spaces, bush reserves, community carparks and other facilities - it stands to lose,” said Executive Member of the Community Environment Network, Mr Gary Chestnut.
“Central Coast residents were told at the beginning of this period of administration that no environmental assets would be sold and yet this latest list of land sales includes a wetland and bush lots,” Mr Chestnut said.
“It includes some of the same community assets that the former Gosford Council was forced to withdraw from reclassification in 2015 as a result of community push back,” he said.
Mr Chestnut said the clock was already ticking and the community had until 21 May to visit Council's community engagement website and let Council know why these assets should remain classified as community land.
“Community land cannot be sold. Council must first reclassify it to operational land. Then it can be sold,” he said.
“This first round of consultation is only the beginning but it is critical that as many people as possible take the time to give their feedback and explain why they object to the reclassification of community land.
“Council has acknowledged that it is legally bound to lodge a Planning Proposal before it can reclassify land from community to operational so it can be sold and that process can take between 12 and 18 months to complete.
“Council is also required to have a public hearing to be convened by an independent facilitator so this will give the community another opportunity to voice its opposition to reclassification of community land.”
Mr Chestnut said CEN would support the community’s fight to protect community land. “The sale of community land is not the only option, and it is certainly not the best option, for reducing Council’s debt.
“The community is right to feel disappointed that Council has been speaking with potential purchasers before it even asked the community for feedback. This is one of many examples of Council putting the cart before the horse during this administration period.
“Central Coast Council knows the importance of green space for amenity and community wellbeing. It also knows that every residential estate development is required to have a minimum amount of green space.
“As this region’s population grows and as temperatures continue to rise we will need those green spaces more than ever. The community knows this to be the case. CEN is confident the community will send a clear message to Council that it needs to take these 27 parcels of community land off the table and find other solutions to satisfy its commercial lenders.”
Stay tuned to CEN's Facebook page for more information about the #stoptheselloff campaign and for tips on how you can stop the reclassification of community land in your area.