Cessnock council slams state for ‘distorting Coalfields economy’
- Cessnock, as seen from Mount Vincent. Cessnock City Council is accusing the state government of distorting the Coalfields economy by marking land for development that is not suitable.
CESSNOCK City Council has accused the former Labor state government of distorting the Coalfields’ economy by earmarking land for development that was unviable.
The comments were made in a council staff submission that also questioned the Coalition government’s population figures in its recent discussion paper for housing in the Lower Hunter over the next 20 years.
Cessnock council officers spoke with NSW Department of Planning consultants, who said population growth was ‘‘significantly less’’ than figures published in the discussion paper, the submission said.
The discussion paper said the Lower Hunter population had increased by 22,500 people in the last five years.
The council submission said much of the discussion paper ‘‘emphasises the primacy of housing and economic development’’.
‘‘Council believes that these objectives are very important,’’ it said, adding they should not outweigh ‘‘balanced development’’ that considers the environment, infrastructure and social factors.
Liberal Cr Rod Doherty said the council’s submission could have been ‘‘more positive for development’’.
‘‘We need to get economic development going in this city,’’ Cr Doherty said.
The submission criticised the former Labor government’s housing plan, the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy.
Numerous sites in Cessnock were earmarked for housing in that strategy that were ‘‘not fully feasible’’, the submission said.
This produced a ‘‘distorted local land economy’’, ‘‘caused great community concern and opposition’’ and cost the council time and money, it said.
Greens Cr James Ryan said the distortion amounted to a ‘‘ gross oversupply of land’’ in the area.
Labor Cr Morgan Campbell successfully called for the Hunter Economic Zone and Hydro Aluminium site at Kurri Kurri to be promoted for development in the council’s submission.
Cr Ryan said the Hunter Economic Zone was a ‘‘big white elephant’’ and an example of developers influencing the former Labor government with political donations.
Cr Campbell said the Hunter Economic Zone had ‘‘potential to become more significant employment land’’.
Labor mayor Bob Pynsent scolded Cr Ryan for singling out Labor.