Will high-rises dominate Coffs Harbour skyline?

MICHAEL Lamont does not believe Coffs Harbour residents want to see high-rises take over their city, yet he is worried that may well be what could happen with Coffs Harbour City Council's settlement strategy.

So the chairman of Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW urges residents to take part in a discussion on whether we are ready for this 'compact city' scenario.

"The region's potential may be limited by the concrete kerbs of the Pacific Highway," Mr Lamont said.

"When the new alignment for the Pacific Highway is complete it could well form an artificial barrier to the orderly expansion of the urban areas.

"The future of the North Boambee Valley has become a prime example of how the orderly planning and development that has occurred over the past 20 years via the leadership of council could be jeopardised in the future. The recent preferred route for the future Pacific Highway, which passes through the valley, is now being promoted as the western limit of urbanisation.

"The respected demographer Bernard Salt has stated that the projected population growth of Coffs Harbour over the next 25 years is expected to be around 100,000 people. Coffs Harbour Council, however, is forecasting an increase of only 33,000 people over the same period. This means that council has decided to plan for only one third of the city's potential, despite the obvious demand for living space in the area."

Around 80 per cent of new dwellings built to accommodate the increase in population will be located in existing residential areas to satisfy the terms of the compact city scenario.

Mr Lamont said that he could not comprehend the rationale for such a radical planning philosophy and questioned its responsiveness to community wishes and market expectations.

"Towers of steel and glass are not part of the seachange dream. I cannot see Coffs Harbour residents accepting this," he said.

Professor Ed Blakely, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning at Sydney University will speak at the discussion, joined by Clyde Treadwell from Coffs Harbour City Council who will give an update on the settlement strategy, and Steve Murray, north coast regional director for the Department of Planning who will give an update on the Mid North Coast Planning Strategy.

The discussion ? Is the North Coast ready for a compact city? ? will be held on Wednesday, May 10 from 1.45pm at Pelican Beach Resort. Cost is $60 for non-members and $40 for members. To register visit www.udia-nsw.com.au or call 9868 3677.

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