Creating a safe world for politicians and developers
Frank Wiffen makes a very pertinent point, when he highlights the spurious "consultation" process that we see from all levels of government and from all agencies ("Pretend consultation while secret decisions are made", Peninsula News EXTRA 516) in matters related to the development of Central Coast in general and of Woy Woy Peninsula in particular.
Anyone who has ever made a submission on the numerous matters put on exhibition over the past decade knows that the impact on final decisions will be negligible.
The whole procedure is mere window-dressing to comply with statutory requirements or to give a gloss of community involvement to a process from which the public is excluded in any meaningful way.
While Mr Wiffen is referring specifically to one development application now before Council, the same can be said, mutatis mutandis, for the redesign of Blackwall Rd, recently put on display ("Minimal feedback sought on intersection plans", PN 516) and for the brand-new, innovative, forward-thinking, dynamic, transformative, revelational Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy now also in the "consultation" phase ("Group rallies submissions on design and place policy", PN 516).
This latter document is the same old dreary rhetoric, with the same old concealed agendas, that we get with every one of these PR exercises, designed to give the impression that the public interest is being advanced at top speed while actually having no purpose but to create new opportunities for developers to damage our built environment and give the public less say in what is going on.
Anyone foolish enough to waste his time formulating submissions on this proposal will find that they get exactly the same attention given to all unwelcome criticisms, i.e., none at all.
Another case in point is the Central Coast Strategy now being prepared for us by the Greater Sydney Commission.
When invitations to comment were displayed, the Commission helpfully supplied a list of issues that it saw as the most important to be taken into account in the preparation of its Strategy.
Remarkably, now that the first steps have been completed, it turns out that the exact issues identified by the Commission turned out to be the ones that everybody approved of, and not a single issue that could have been raised beyond those originals proved to be important enough to influence the Commission's opinions.
We are fortunate to have such perceptive and totally informed experts in charge of our future: it hardly seems to be worth questioning their views when they are clearly so universally accepted.
Of course, it will be interesting to see whether the Commission's end-product is of any more value than the nugatory Central Coast Regional Plan prepared by the Planning Department or the much-heralded Gosford Central Plan prepared by the Government Architect.
It is easy to suspect that it will have no more real-world impact than these bygone exercises in futility and no more influence on the future of the Central Coast than the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporations's trivial and money-wasting reworking of the Gosford Leagues Field.
A more suspicious person than I might think it possible that this constant issuing of invitations to comment, when all comments are routinely ignored, is a long-term strategy to wear out the interest of the public and exhaust the energies of community groups, so that future changes can be made without any irritating contrary views having to be entertained at all.
The world will then be safe for politicians and developers to do as they wish.
Email, 4 Apr 2021
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy