‘Unbelievable, where did that come from?’
THE surprise addition of retirement homes to a new draft Jetty Foreshore plan has been almost universally panned.
The new Coffs Harbour Jetty Foreshores Precinct draft plan foreshadows retirement living on the former Deep Sea Fishing Club site, inflaming tensions over a development which has already proved divisive.
That tension was on show yesterday at a press conference with Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey and Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh who were revealing the make up of the Jetty Foreshore Project Steering Advisory Committee.
The plan identifies an area slated for active retirement/residential living on some of the most coveted real estate on the Coffs Coast, overlooking Gallows Beach and Corambirra point.
Both MPs emphasised the plans were still in their preliminary stages and the role of the committee was to better align the plans with the community's vision.
When one person interjected with "unbelievable, where did that come from?" - a reference to the inclusion of retirement living in the precinct - Ms Pavey responded by saying "that was a council decision, sir".
That raised eyebrows among some in attendance, however Ms Pavey seemed to walk back from the comment less than 24 hours later when asked to clarify what she had meant by it, and where the retirement living idea originated.
The Minister said any proposed land use would need to be approved by Coffs Harbour City Council as part of the planning approval process.
"The retirement living option was a suggestion that came up through former stakeholder engagement," she said.
"The Draft Concept Plan is just that, a draft, and the indicative land uses are a matter that will be progressed with the input of the PSAC before being packaged up and put to the wider Coffs community next year.
"We just want respectful engagement from the entire community. This is up to the community to have their say."
A Council spokesperson said the first they were aware of the particular retirement village option was when the draft concept plans were released to the media yesterday.
"Minister Pavey's comments are a matter for Minister Pavey to address," the spokesperson said.
The idea of retirement homes in the Jetty Precinct has enraged many, who have made their feelings known on a number of social media platforms.
Mr Singh acknowledged the strong opposition and said while he agreed with the idea of finding a different use for the site, he again stressed nothing was a "done deal".
"Personally I wouldn't like to see a retirement home there and there are better uses for the site," he said.
"But now (the community) have seen something, they can make changes. The whole reason we have the committee is to further refine (the plans)."
People wishing to make their feelings known about the direction of the precinct plan are encouraged to write to their council representatives on the PSAC - George Cecato and Paul Amos.