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Collapse Issue 577:<br />4 Sep 2023<br />_____________Issue 577:
4 Sep 2023
Community groups oppose Austin Butler reserve sale
Reclassification to proceed
Tesch opposes reserve reclassification and sale
Hart urges community to consider options
Residents reject tree trade-off and call for planning review
Woolworths has 'no detailed plans'
Tree planting should be routine for Council, says GUST*
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Hart urges community to consider Austin Butler options

Central Coast Council Administrator Mr Rik Hart has urged the community to have its say on the future of a parcel of land in Austin Butler Reserve next to Peninsula Plaza in Woy Woy.

He said the consultation process that "could provide millions of dollars to a community greening program".

The parcel of land was resolved to be placed on public exhibition to seek community feedback on whether the site should be retained in Council ownership or be sold to facilitate expansion of Peninsula Plaza.

Mr Hart said the community is being given the opportunity to decide about the long-term future of their area, in particular, from a community greening and street tree perspective.

"Council has been contacted by the shopping centre owner and their major tenant, Woolworths, about the parcel of land next to Peninsula Plaza in Woy Woy."

He said they were "concerned about the viability of future operations in relation to logistics and public safety around current arrangements for the loading dock".

This land had around 40 trees, "some of which would need to be removed to mitigate these risks", he said.

"I have heard from dozens of community members about the importance of the trees on this site, and more broadly, about the lack of mature shade trees throughout Woy Woy and the Peninsula.

"I resolved at the August 22 Council meeting that the community's perspective on this matter is paramount.

"I will be guided by the community's perspective through further consultation."

He said two options would be offered.

The first option would be to retain the site in Council ownership "which would stop the sale process".

The second option was to sell the site "with all proceeds from the sale allocated to greening of the local community, for example, via an extensive street tree planting program".

"Considering the value of this land is in the millions of dollars, the resultant greening program (delivering thousands of trees) would be fully funded and could deliver a significant, long-term, and meaningful boost to canopy cover, shade, and mature trees in the local area," said Mr Hart.

"A greening program would go a very long way to offsetting the heat impacts associated with reduced tree canopy and climate change."

Mr Hart noted a petition started by the Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch to save the trees at Austin Butler Reserve.

"I met with the Member for Gosford about this matter recently and explained to her my intention to put these two options to the community, including my commitment to use the proceeds of the sale to fully fund a significant greening program for the local area," he said.

"While the Member for Gosford's intention is for the community's voice to be heard, I hope that she is considering the long-term impacts of both options, in particular, the significant impacts that a greening program could have to address concerns about loss of trees that many members of the Peninsula community are already very vocal about.

"In short, the proposal is to sacrifice a few dozen mature trees now, for the benefit of thousands of trees planted in the area over the next 10 years which would provide a substantial benefit for future generations."

Mr Hart said: "I encourage the community to think about the short- and long-term impacts of each option before having their say.

"This is a chance for the community to have a measurable impact on the future of their area."

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