Residents reject

Austin Butler Reserve trade-off

The Peninsula Residents Association has rejected an offer from Central Coast Council Administrator Mr Rik. Hart to inject millions of dollars into an "extensive street tree planting program" on the Peninsula, as a trade-off for the sale of part of the Austin Butler reserve which adjoins the Peninsula Plaza shopping centre.

Austin Butler Reserve.

6 September 2023


THE Woy Woy Peninsula can’t afford to lose one more mature tree. The community is already recognised by Central Coast Council as a heat island in accordance with the Central Coast Council’s Greener Places Strategy, adopted in July 2022, which states that “older trees have greater habitat value than younger trees in the urban forest”.


A sale "could provide millions of dollars to a community greening program", Mr Hart said.


It will be one option presented as part of a community consultation, the other being retention of the reserve in council ownership.


The association has instead called on Mr Hart to bring on a strategic planning review of the Peninsula and implement the Council's adopted Greener Places Strategy.


"The Strategy includes a review of planning provisions to support the retention and expansion of tree cover," said association secretary Ms Jen Wilder.


Action proposed in the strategy is to "prepare planning controls to improve tree planting and retention outcomes from development", she said.


"The community and the association have demonstrated the inadequacy of the current planning provisions to protect and encourage an increase in tree canopy on the Peninsula in their many submissions on local development applications."


She said that, in November last year, the Local Planning Panel called on the Council to undertake a strategic planning review of the Peninsula "to ensure there is consistency between the relevant controls, provisions and character statements applicable to each locality, and clear direction and expectation on the desired future character of these suburbs".


Currently, there is no review scheduled.


Ms Wilder said Mr Hart had claimed to be giving the community the opportunity to decide about the long-term future of their area, in particular, from a community greening and street tree perspective.


"We would like the Administrator to introduce the strategic planning review as a matter of urgency” she said.


"Such a review will be more effective in the longer-term, will be less expensive and is a sounder approach to the issue of greening the PeninsulaThe community groups of the Woy Woy Peninsula and Central Coast, DO NOT accept Council Administrator RikHart’s resolution to rezone, reclassify and sell Austin Butler Reserve in exchange for a promise to use the sale money for a “community greening program”.


Austin Butler Reserve was dedicated to council for the purpose of community recreation. It is a precious green space with 44 mature trees, providing habitat to many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, microbats and insects. Central Coast Council, in its efforts to sell off our public land has, so far:


  • Failed to discharge conditions or restrictions from the land’s original dedication to council.


  • Pre-empted the outcome of a proposal to reclassify the land from community to operational to allow it to be sold.


  • Pre-empted the outcome of an amendment to the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) to permit commercial use of the land which is currently prohibited.


  • Entered an agreement to sell community land to the company that owns Peninsula Plaza.


  • Attempted to wedge the community by promising to use money from the reserve’s sale to buy trees.


  • Failed to get basic facts right – resolved to sell a non-existent lot 19 instead of lot 9; the land area is over 4000m2 not the claimed 2000m2.


The combined community groups of the Woy Woy Peninsula and broader Central Coast request that Central Coast Council immediately:


  • Rescinds the resolution made at the August council meeting.


  • Withdraws Austin Butler AC from sale.


  • Commits to keeping Austin Butler AC in public ownership as valued community land zoned for community recreation.


  • Tells the owners of Peninsula Plaza and their key tenant, Woolworths, to use their own land to fix unverified “safety concerns” and not expect the community to lose its reserve.


  • Commits to street tree planting and deep soil provision to address its existing obligations to fix the “urban heat island effects on the Woy Woy Peninsula” (page 38 Greener Places Strategy) without selling our public land.


An open letter stating the community's objection to rezone, reclassify and sell off Austin Butler Reserve was sent to Rid, Central Coast Council Administrator, David Farmer, CEO, Central Coast Council and the Hon. David Harris MP, Minister for the Central Coast.


It was signed by:


  • Australian Conservation Foundation Central Coast Community Group


  • Mingaletta Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation


  • Residents for Responsible Ettalong Development (RRED)


  • Koolewong Point Clare Tascott Progress Association


  • Community Environment Network (CEN)


  • Pearl Beach Progress Association


  • Peninsula Residents Association


  • Peninsula Environment Group (PEG)


  • Grow Urban Shade Trees (GUST)


  • Save Central Coast Reserves


  • Save Our Woy Woy


  • Wildlife ARC




You can support the campaign at SOS Community.

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