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Planning and Finance Role of NSW State and Federal Governments in Growth Centre Development(Central Coast Region Case Study)

By Dr. Ray Rauscher

By Dr. Ray Rauscher,

M 043 5004844 ray.rauscher@gmail.com dated 23rd February 2021

I submit these comments for the State and Federal Governments to examine in light of the Central Coast Council’s current position in undertaking examination of: 

  1. Options for a rates variation (adopted 17 Feb 2021 a 15% increase to submit for approval to the State body Independent Pricing and Regulations Tribunal (IPART);
  2. Council finances (i.e. expenditure in all areas including staff levels). 

Introduction

My premise is that the State and Federal Governments need to examine how the above circumstances arose in the light of the Central Coast being a declared NSW Regional Growth Centre (commenced in 1975 under the Central Coast Structure Plan (DoP 1975). This paper focuses on the planning and financing of this Growth Centre, acknowledging the Central Coast Region is one of five urban growth centres. The other centres are: South West Sydney; Western Sydney; Illawarra-Wollongong; and, Newcastle Greater Metropolitan Region. Such an examination needs to be undertaken in cooperation with the Central Coast Council (herein referred to as ‘the Council’) and the Central Coast community (i.e. through elected representatives and wider electorate).  Some planning, finance and governance review areas that the State and Federal Governments could consider for the Central Coast Growth Centre (and in turn other growth centres as noted above) follows.

Planning, Finance, and Governance Review Areas

1. Costs Associated with Growth Centre Population Increases

There are Council associated costs connected to the State determined population increases (i.e. an additional 90,000 residents to settle onto the Coast by 2036 under State’s Central Coast Planning Strategy 2036(DPIE 2018). 

2. Financial State Impositions on Council through Cost Shifting

Council carrying many financial impositions by the State as a local government authority. This governance body is statutorily created by the State (and can be dismissed by the State) and without Federal Government constitutional recognition. These impositions need review and include:  waste charges; costs associated with State owned last and water assets such as Tuggerah Lakes and foreshores. The Lakes and foreshores require continue upgrading, recreation uses and maintenance (i.e. dredging and stabilisation in The Entrance). 

3. Major Open Space and Wildlife Corridor Systems

Major open space provisions such as the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) needs review of a greater funding role of the State and Federal Governments (including planning, additional acquisitions, use of and maintenance). In addition, the State needs to examine how conservation and wildlife corridors can be further established, expanded and maintained (see State Government’s North Wyong Shire Structure Plan2012). This is especially so in the growth development release areas such as Lake Munmorah and the extension of the COSS program into the former Wyong Shire area.

4. Local and Regional Roads

Many of the roads on the Central Coast are designated ‘local’ by the State (thus funded by the Council). A State review of all those roads that more logically should be designated ‘regional’ is needed. In additional many roads designated regional and maintained by Council under agreement with the State (with a subsidy to Council) needs an equity review. The State indicated via a press release on 25 Jan 2021 (Coast News) that it will be reviewing these road designations throughout the State to quote ‘ease the associated costs to councils (and thus ratepayers)’.

5. Bus Transport and Bus Shelters

The State, given its provision of new buses to Central Coast bus companies, the collection of fares and provision of information plinths should take over the role of providing bus shelters.  There is a pressing need of bus shelters over the entire Central Coast and Council does not have the financial ability to provide and maintain these. In one suburb alone, Springfield, there are 9 bus stops in the main bus route in either direction and only 1 shelter in either direction. This situation exists in a suburb that was mostly developed in the 1970s (50 years ago). The Central Coast records a low bus patronage (excluding school runs) compared to these other growth centres. One would suggest the inadequate bus shelter provision is one reason for low patronage.

6. Transit Ways

It’s noted the State has funded (20 years ago) 3 new Transit Ways (Parramatta to growth centres: Liverpool, Rouse Hill and Blacktown). This included state of the art bus shelters (with time boards, bike racks, adequate seating, night lights and emergency telephone). There are many opportunities for the State to undertake Transit Ways on the Central Coast. The first such route would be from Woy Woy via Gosford, Erina, Bateau Bay, Tuggerah, Wyong, North Lakes and Wyee. It is understood that the Central Coast Sustainable Transport Group submitted this proposal to the NSW Minister for Transport in 2020.

7. Bikeways

There appears to be a major need for a greater take up by the State in financing bikeways and related infrastructure on the Central Coast. The current expenditure on bikeways is inadequate in meeting the plans as adopted by the Council.

8. Gosford Transport Interchange

The Gosford Transport Interchange needs a total upgrade similar to Newcastle Interchange (particularly the bus waiting area as this area is antiquated and totally inadequate for a growth area).  Upgrades such as electronic bus time signage, seating and protection from wet weather needs attention in a master plan with finance from the State and private public partnerships (PPPs).

9. Heritage Planning

The State needs a major role in heritage planning and signage in places such as Gosford City Centre and other Central Coast CBDs.

10. Footpath and Curb and Gutter Provisions

The State needs to consider assisting Council in undertaking footpath and curb and gutter provisions through the urban areas. It is understood that there is a Council 50-60 year backlog (almost all in established areas) in the provision of this essential infrastructure.  The Council budget is miniscule compared to the backlog, suggesting some urban areas will never see adequate footpaths and curb and guttering. In respect, for a growth area designated in 1975 as noted in the introduction this would appear a dysfunction of governance provision. The issue thus needs a partnership solution between the Council and the State.

11. Cultural and Community Service Facilities 

Cultural and Community Service facilities on the Central Coast need to receive better State and Federal Governments support in planning, financing and upkeep. This happens extensively in Sydney where State cultural facilities, for example, are readily State funded (museums, culture, performing arts centres, and the recent $40m. upgrade of the Wharf Theatre in The Rocks). There is a case study available on the inability of governance to engage the community that is the proposed Central Coast Performing Arts Centre (PAC). The project was promoted over 20 years (2000-2020) by the local community. The failure to see this facility eventuate (as reported in the Coast News over recent years) appears to be attributed to a lack of agreement (in site location and finance) by the State, Federal and Council.  As a result it’s suggested the Central Coast community’s confidence in the three levels of governance working together was diminished. A review of projects such as PAC would be valuable for future proposals coming from the community for cultural and community service facilities.  

12. Library and Recreation Facilities

It has taken Council (given funding shortages and location questions) over 25 years (1996-2021) of planning, finance allocation and siting of providing a new Gosford CBD library (replacing the existing one). On 17 Feb 2021 the Council (via the Administrator) agreed to finance the new library. This suggests Council major service provision requirements (especially in growth centres) such as libraries and recreation facilities needs State and Federal Government review. Central Coast residents note, for example, the State assisting the rebuilding, upgrading and operation of the NSW State Library and numerous sporting complexes (i.e. the 2020 opening of Parramatta Stadium and proposed rebuilding of other stadiums). 

13. Central Coast CBD Main Streets Upgrading 

 The State may need to expand areas of financial assistance and joint programs with Council to upgrade many Central Coast CBD main streets. These include, for example, CBDs of Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina, North Gosford, East Gosford, Erina, Bateau Bay, Long Jetty, The Entrance, Tuggerah, Wyong, Toukley, and Budgewoi. This could include a review of funding for upgrading and provision of traffic calming, public amenities (i.e. toilets), open spaces, infrastructure, rest areas, landscaping, passive recreation, children’s play areas, seating etc.).

14. Local Government Reform Process

On a broad basis the State and Federal Governments may need to review their local government reform processes. The State for example commenced its local government reform investigations in 2012 (main document being Destination 2036). It’s noted that this process commenced before the State legislated amalgamations in 2016 within the Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamation 2016. The Stat’s amalgamation steps affected the Central Coast councils of Gosford and Wyong. It is understood in effect that the two councils were amalgamated (as a Central Coast Council) via an ultimatum of the State (as reported in the Sydney and Central Coast papers in late 2015). It was reported that the Gosford Mayor’s delegation to the Minister for Local Government at the time was informed the State would amalgamate the two councils were Gosford Council not to agree to amalgamation. In general the sentiment on the Central Coast (then and now) was that the residents were not effectively and fully engaged by the State in its amalgamation review process. That said, the State may need to review the full implications of the amalgamation, including related costings incurred by the new Council and extended finance impositions on ratepayers now and into the future. 

15. State Significant Areas

A review may be needed on the implications (planning and finance at State and Council levels) of the State designation of ‘State Significant Areas’. Gosford City Centre, for example, is designated a revitalisation area (under the State’s Gosford City Centre Revitalisation Program 2018). There are implications of this designation for Gosford CBD and in time other major development areas that could also be designated State Significant. These may include:  Woy Woy-Umina Corridor; Somersby to Erina Corridor, Tuggerah-Wyong to Warnervale Corridor, The Entrance-Long Jetty and Bateau Bay Corridor, and Northlakes to Lake Munmorah Corridor.

16. Development and Value Capture Planning

It appears that, despite the development of the Central Coast (as a designated Growth Centre), there appears inadequate financing (State and Council) of a range of affordable and social housing, open and public spaces and sustainable transport (examples noted above). A State review of this financing challenge could incorporate looking at expanding the band of urban development finance approaches. One system widely used in other countries and occasionally in Australia (i.e. in transport projects such as the planned Aerotropolis in Southwest Sydney and Metro Sydney) is Value Capture Planning (VCP). The subject covers developer provisions and land value capture levies. See a current book (2021) on the subject of VCP entitled Renewing Cities with Value Capture Planning(Rauscher 2021). The book develops a VCP model and applies this model to four growth areas: Greater Sydney Inner City (Waterloo-Redfern); Greater Sydney Middle City (Canterbury-Bankstown); Central Coast (Gosford City Centre); and Newcastle Greater Metropolitan Area (Newcastle West End). 

17. Future Central Coast Region Gaining City Status 

The loss of the designation of ‘Gosford City’ under the amalgamation noted above may need to be addressed by the State. City status, for example, has a sweat of financial, state, national and international advantages to capitalise on.  The State, it is noted, refers within its State Significant revitalisation plans for Gosford CBD (see above #15) to the ‘Gosford City Centre’. 

The State may wish (in cooperation with Council) to establish and fund a Committee to Investigate Central Coast City Status. The committee would investigate all implications (pluses and minuses) of the potential for the Central Coast achieving city status. Such a committee could spend up to two years to complete its task (including engaging the electorate and working within the Central Coast Council chambers. In time the Committee would present a report for comment to the electorate, then to the Council and the State. The report would include comments on how other urban and regional areas have achieved city status. It is possible in ensuring democratic procedures are used, a referendum on city status could be considered for the 2025 local government elections. Were the results to indicate a majority in favour of city status the implementation of that move would utilise the completed work of the Committee to Investigate Central Coast City Status. The referendum could offer names of such a city, including for example: City of Gosford Wyong or City of the Central Coast. Within a city designation there would then be designated a number of city centres, including:  Gosford Centre (potentially keeping its currently State designated ‘regional capital’), Woy Woy-Umina Centre, Tuggerah-Wyong Centre, The Entrance-Long Jetty Centre, Toukley Centre and so forth. 

18. Governance and Elections Review

There have been recent suggestions by many residents over the 2020 and 2021 period (see Coast News) and by the Council Administrator (Dick Persson) of the need for a local government governance and elections review. The governance of Council (including number of councillors, ward systems, and engagement of the public) is one potential review area. This review may be especially important for any Growth Centre (as noted in the Introduction). A review could tie into the State’s local government reform process noted earlier (#14 above). The review could also tie in Federal Government’s review of local government planning and finance. This could include consideration of constitutional recognition. Finally, there are many other alternatives in reviewing governance into the future for planning and financing growth on the Central Coast (see Cities in Global Transition(Rauscher 2017 Chapter 18). 

Closing Comment.

Many of the suggestions herein in this paper could apply to other NSW council areas (especially Growth Centres). This suggests a full review of the position of local government today in NSW in its structure, planning and financing (including State and Federal government’s roles as noted in #18 above). Any review needs to project ahead to the year 2056 (the year the NSW State is using in its forward planning).

References

Department of Planning (1975) Central Coast Structure Plan. State Government, Sydney

Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (2018) Central Coast Planning Strategy 2036. State Government, Sydney

NSW Government (2012) Destination 2036. NSW State Government, Sydney

NSW Government (2016) Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamation 2016. NSW State Government, Sydney

NSW Government (2018) GosfordCity Centre Revitalisation Program 2018. NSW State Government, Sydney

Rauscher, Ray (2017) Cities in Global Transition. Springer Publishers, Switzerland

Rauscher, Ray (2021) Renewing Cities with Value Capture Planning. Springer Publishers, SwitzerlandDr. Ray Rauscher rayc.rauscher@gmail.com M 043 500 4844   Dated: 23 February 2021 

Impressions Collection

 

 

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Visions of Inner Sydney

On an excursion to Roselle in the early spring, one could not have experienced such a bright and crisp day. In this impressions collection, Dr. Ray has found many examples of early 20th century urban living in the inner Sydney suburbs.

 

 

 

These vistas have created a picturesque environment in the 21st century through mature trees and bushes presenting a fairyland, giving a bright yet soft impression of the Sydney suburbs.

 

 

 

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Visions of Inner Sydney New Series

Pearl Shell Roof Darling Harbour

The Weekly Dozen is a grouping of 12 photos to be presented on the Visions of Sydney Habitat Association’s project site each week.

This is the first week of this new series called “Buildings and Spaces”.

Also last week Visions of Sydney had a new pilot of this series called Autumn in Inner Sydney.

Both these new series can be found on Visions of Inner Sydney.

Link to site: Buildings and Spaces

Transport for NSW Long Term Master Plan – Submission on Discussion Paper

As an advocate for both adaptive thinking and the Environment the Habitat Association for Arts and Environment has included the latest publication by one of its members, David Holland, on transport planning for New South Wales.

For those who are surfing the web from outside of Australia, New South Wales is arguably the most populous State in Australia and has a large economy in Australian terms.

This means that transport planning in New South Wales (NSW) is pivotal to the future success of that economy and the we being of the residents and workers of the State.

We may even go as far as to say that without a solid strategy for the future and new co-operation between the various transport agencies, NSW is poised to produce more transport bottleneck which will affect the states future prosperity. The submission outline three themes that Mr. Holland feels are important for the way forward. They are sustainability, security and reliability.

The submission not only looks at very practical aspects of providing a sustainable public transport system, but also sustainable ways to operate transport systems into the future. This is highlighted in the approach related to handling freight. The submission proposes a logical but revolutional way to handle freight service between regions and between other Australian States.

The use of renewable energy in the rail system is touched on as a way for the State to meet renewable energy targets.

The Central Coast of NSW is referred to in much of the submission. David believes that regional Australia is often left out of detailed transport planning processes because of the assumption that all commuting, as has been traditionally the case, is flowing to and from the Sydney metropolitan areas. With the slow but steady improvement of job opportunities in the regions, more and more commuting is being done intra-regionally. This means that public transport services should not only accommodate this trend but transport planning should drive this trend, providing appropriate infrastructure to give greater opportunity for regional investment in the growing regional economic powerhouses of the Illawarra, the Central Coast, the far west of Sydney around Penrith and the Blue Mountains, and the south west of Sydney around Campbelltown.

To Read More follow this link>: