Lacklustre response to foreshore plan

DO we really care about Coffs Harbour's Jetty Foreshore?

With only 31 submissions so far to the Department of Lands' draft plan of management for this important precinct, perhaps we don't.

If you haven't already had your say, you only have until 5pm today to do so.

The document has been on public exhibition since February 29.

The lacklustre response contrasts markedly with the widespread debate and protest rallies prompted by previous plans.

The Harbourside Project Concepts document last year attracted 2443 submissions, and the forerunner to that, the Draft Harbour plan, had some 760.

The Jetty Action Group (JAG) has campaigned three times in the past five years, pleading the city council and the State Government to listen to what the community wants at the foreshores.

The group feels the latest plan is flawed and should be withdrawn because it doesn't 'reflect the true wishes of the community'.

JAG spokesman Wayne Evans said he was proud that agitation had led to such a big response to the Harbourside Project Concepts document.

"But we felt rather disappointed for the community because they haven't been listened to," Mr Evans said.

The poor response to the latest plan, he said, was a reflection the community was fed up with being ignored, combined with the fact JAG had not mounted a big campaign this time around.

"What we're finding is planning laws are being changed and the authorities don't want the community to get involved in planning," he said.

"Community consultation is being knocked out of people."

Coffs Harbour deputy mayor, Cr Rod McKelvey, said he was surprised by the low number of submissions to the plan.

"I would have thought it would have stimulated a larger response," Cr McKelvey said.

However, he suspected much interest in the plan had been removed because it did not focus on 'contentious' areas west of the rail line.

"It's down to the basics of the harbour itself," he said.

"Also, there is not really a definitive plan to do a proper job of dredging the harbour. People have been saying to me they would have been far happier if there was an informed view on how the harbour can be dredged on a permanent basis."

The Lands Department is expected to complete its review of submissions by the middle of the year.

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