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IT WAS gushingly referred to as 'The Jewel in the Crown' and conceived 'to build on the harbour's reputation', but 12 months after its launch, what has happened to the Harbour Plan?

The plan was launched with a four-page feature wrapped around the Coffs Coast Advocate on Saturday, November 1 last year.

The feature included artist's impressions of a crowded boardwalk along the harbour's north wall, a line of white umbrellas along Jetty Beach and green spaces and scattered trees where the dunal vegetation now lines the foreshores.

Listed inside as features of the plan were 'tourist accommodation in the form of 112 twin key apartments', 'a sun-protected beach area', 'beach cafe and additional space for watersports' and '400 additional car parking spaces'.

Jordan Esplanade was to be relocated next to the railway line.

The plan had been approved at the previous Thursday's council meeting, with the then mayor, Cr Jenny Bonfield, quoted as saying: "We're putting the 'harbour' back into Coffs Harbour."

While the information could not have been more optimistic, the Advocate's editorial that day carried a note of caution, which predicted the public reaction that followed.

"There will no doubt be some aspects of the harbour plan which upset certain sections of the community."

By the following Wednesday, the first of many letters of opposition to the plan had appeared on the opinion page, and the complaints continued ? too big, too expensive, too much change, no development east of the railway line.

Despite an extended period of public exhibition and playing a prominent role in the March 2004 council election, the plan failed to win widespread public acceptance and was shelved. So where to now?

Last year's Harbour Plan was not the first for the site ? in 1983 a State Government proposal included townhouses, hotels, a motel, and 360-berth marina ? and will not be the last.

An enlarged strategic planning group has been formed to work through the issues, while workshops will be held with key stakeholders.

Issues from the workshops will be considered in the development of new options for the harbour, which will then be put on public exhibition. The new plan will probably be shown to the public in the first half of 2005.

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