State Government exposed by tale of two cities

Published on 16 April 2024


If it’s good enough for the NSW South Coast then it should be good enough for the NSW North Coast – as City of Coffs Harbour fights to keep the prized public land at the Jetty Foreshores in the hands of the community. 

Mayor Cr Paul Amos has won support for a Mayoral Minute which detailed inconsistencies in the NSW Government’s approach to public holdings. 

At Coffs Harbour, the State is pressing to sell part of the Jetty Foreshores to enable multi-storey development of up to 450 dwellings. 

Council is opposed to that, wanting instead to retain the Foreshores for the community and improve the site for recreation and community activation. 

To that end the City offered to buy the land from the State, but this was rebuffed, so Council is now looking toward a compulsory acquisition of the site. 

“We remain hopeful that we can work with the State Government to keep the Jetty Foreshores – which is the People’s Playground – for the benefit of the community and in their hands,” Cr Amos said. 

At its meeting on 11 April, Council endorsed a Mayoral Minute which will see it write to NSW Premier Chris Minns and Ministers Steve Kamper (Property), Ron Hoenig (Local Government) and Paul Scully (Planning). 

Council has also noted how the State Government took an entirely different approach to the Lake Illawarra Foreshore – electing not to carve it up for private development. 

“During the election campaign we listened to the community, and we are now making good on our commitment not to sell the site,” Mr Kamper said in a press release on the Lake Illawarra decision. 

“The Government, where appropriate, has a responsibility to make sure public land remains in public hands and is used to benefit the community.” 

Minister Scully also welcomed the decision to save the 8.2-hectare site on the Illawarra Foreshore. 

“I’ve made it abundantly clear that this land should be kept in public hands, and I welcome Minister Kamper’s swift decision,” Mr Scully said. 

It took only some 200 public submissions to convince Minister Kamper to retain the Illawarra Foreshore site, and Cr Amos is confident there is far greater and overwhelming community support in Coffs Harbour to retain the Jetty site for the sole enjoyment of the public. 

Cr Amos noted Cr Tony Judge’s comments, who spoke in favour of the Mayoral Minute. 

Cr Judge likened the State’s plans to creating a gated community at the Jetty. 

Cr Sally Townley also voted in favour of the Mayoral Minute. 

Cr Amos said the Deputy Mayor was “horrified” by the State’s plans to jam a thousand people – the equivalent of the entire population of Coramba – into a narrow spit of land only 50 to 80 metres across. 

Council also noted an attempt by the State Government to link the future of the Jetty Foreshores to the pressing need for major works to save the heritage-listed Jetty pier. 

Cr Amos wrote to the NSW Government before Christmas seeking funding to refurbish the 450-metre long timber jetty, which may require up to $30 million worth of works. 

Minister Kamper has just replied to that appeal, stating all funds in the current round of Crown Reserve Improvement Fund had been exhausted – before adding “Council may wish to consider ongoing collaboration with Property & Development NSW on the Coffs Jetty Harbour Foreshore Precinct. 

Property and Development NSW currently manages the State Government’s Jetty Foreshores land which is at the centre of the dispute as to how it should be developed. 

“We want the State to have a rethink about its plans for the Jetty Foreshores. They’ve committed to keep the Illawarra Foreshore in public hands and they should do the same for the people of Coffs Harbour,” Cr Amos said. 

“It’s also quite inappropriate for the State to link Council’s position on the Foreshores to funding opportunities to save the Jetty pier. They are two separate issues and they should be treated independently.”