Letter: Deal with the facts on Plaza site

I am pleased a vigorous conversation on what should happen with the Plaza Car Park and Food For Less sites has commenced following a proposal presented by Dr Jan Lindrum.

When the community considers what should happen with the site let’s recognise that we must deal with facts. 

Both parcels of land are within the bounds of the CBD proper.  They are brown fields sites of reclaimed land zoned B3 commercial core.  They are ripe for commercial development. Their highest and best use is for commercial purposes. Such purposes would return the most to the community by way of the proceeds of sale and ongoing rates contributions, jobs and an overall increase in economic activity.

The car park land is Crown Land and the consent of the Minister will be required for any sale The Food For Less site is owned by Woolworths. Nothing can happen on that site without its consent. 

The community needs long-term car parking. Dr Lindrum’s proposal addresses car parking. The community wants jobs. Her proposal will result in many new jobs within the Marriott Hotel development and also within the Woolworths development she proposed for Gordon Street. A win/win.  

There remains plenty of green space at the Town Green, along the foreshore out to the break wall, Town Beach and west along to Westport Park and beyond. There is no encroachment onto the foreshore space by her proposal. None. Public access to the Public Recreation zone (RE1) along the Kooloonbung Creek foreshore is not affected.

The fifty year old public pool may need to be replaced and a new aquatic centre is being considered by Council. Sale proceeds of the Plaza Car park may, if the State Government agrees, be applied towards the cost of that project. 

The Chamber wants activation of the foreshore, a vibrant, vital CBD and economic development. The Chamber has not endorsed Dr Lindrum’s proposal, however, we welcome the discussion and hope that it leads to a prompt commencement of a public EOI process seeking out the best proposals for the site. We encourage talks between Crown Lands, Woolworths and Council. 

Achieving a balance of disparate community interests and needs is always a challenge.  But the existing zoning gives a clear pathway to a solution.  While the desire expressed by some for open space is understandable, in the end it is a reasonably simple proposition for the community - does it want jobs and opportunity for its young people, or not?

Hadyn Oriti, President

Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce