13 May 2009

Gosford's Challenge

Many stories and rumours abound regarding changes that might be happening in Gosford. Now an announcement has been made.
The following is from the Gosford Challenge email newsletter.


"The need for the Strategic Design Partner to be able to engage and listen to our community
was a key requirement in the evaluation process. Within the ‘commercial in confidence’
nature of the evaluation, the process was carefully designed to allow ‘real people’ to be
present for the contenders to talk to, elicit information from and demonstrate that this
information would indeed be used in their responses. Gosford people, representing many
sectors, kindly gave their time to the selection workshops."

For many people who had expressed an interest in contributing to the process, the identity of the 'real people', and the method by which they were appointed, remains a mystery and a cause for concern.

How will it be possible to think outside the box when the self-selected 'real people' are the box.

The real challenge for Gosford might be to break with its traditional secrecy, division and self interested development and let the real people speak.

While there are some who will take exception to the descriptions of divisiveness, developmental self interest, lack of transparency in processes and disfunctional communications being aired, it is hard to find many who will deny the reality of the situation – except those who are committed to talking up the positive.

And the positives are a there too, but the challenge remains and must be acknowledged and redressed if Gosford's potential is to become a reality.

Meanwhile, for the 'real people', it is , as our Mayor Chris Holstein recently commented "you get what you accept".

12 April 2009

Greening the 'green'

Imagine the Imperial Centre and Town Centre shopping complex rooves becoming parkland (with a vertical garden on the Woolworth's red brick wall), more than tripling the Kibble Park area and putting Gosford in the vanguard of climate change design.

'Parkland' from Rumbalara Reserve

Decision-makers in Canada "have gotten the message, and green roof design has risen to the occasion. Case in point: the new Vancouver Convention Centre, a major civic project which officially opened this past weekend, boasts the largest non-industrial roof in North America.

The six-acre rooftop garden is crafted as a habitat for the 400,000 native plants and grasses growing there, as well as for birds and bugs (it houses hives for 60,000 bees).

The building, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects, in collaboration with Vancouver firms MCM and DA, is expected to achieve LEED Gold designation and incorporates significant green building technologies."

01 April 2009

And so it goes

If at first

"Mr. Jas Kibble is having the waterway through his property in Mann street straightened, which when finished will add considerably to the appearance and value of the land."

From The Gosford Times 27th. July 1900

And so it goes.

What will be revealed?

Residents had an opportunity to comment on Council’s Kibble Park Master Plan, but it is not known if any changes were made, or if so, what. Council did say “thank you” though.

It is puzzling why action is being taken now when the Gosford Challenge plan for the CBD is not due until June. Indeed why the RTA has spent so much on the intersection at the waterfront when any worthwhile plan for that area from the Gosford Challenge would have to relocate the road away from the water.
While on the subject of integrated planning and coordination, what became of the Cultural Spaces and Places Report stage 2 commissioned by Council from the consultants?

And so it goes.

30 March 2009


"Jennifer Guerra reports, artists in Detroit are buying up foreclosed properties and turning them into cultural havens. In the crumbling Motor City, Mitch and Gina Cope have been purchasing ailing properties at rock-bottom prices, and are encouraging other artists to do the same.

That part isn't shocking; rather, it was just a matter of time until a really good example showed up. Artist communities are known for reinventing downtrodden neighborhoods the world over; in fact, the phenomenon of artists-come-in, neighborhood-becomes-hot, prices-go-up, artists-forced-out is so familiar now that what's happening in Detroit can be seen as something like the larval stage of neighborhood development. But Guerra uncovered a development that hadn't even occurred to me:

Then [Mitch and Gina Cope] set their sights on the foreclosed house down the street — a working class, wood frame, single family house that was listed for sale for $1,900. The house had been trashed by scrappers who stole everything, including the copper plumbing, radiators and electrical lines. Still, they decided to buy it and turn it into what Cope calls the "Power House Project."
"Our idea — instead of putting it all back and connecting to the grid, we wanted to keep it off the grid and get enough solar and wind turbines and batteries to power this house and power the next-door house," [Mitch] Cope says.
Although it is small consolation in the face of overwhelming economic strife in Detroit and elsewhere as the foreclosure crisis continues, this story gave me a real feeling of hope and renewal. To me, this example and other corresponding cases – like the artist-driven re-imaginings of shopping malls and big box stores seems symbolic of an even larger cultural shift. The arts community isn't just moving into one downtrodden urban neighborhood; rather, they're taking on the ruins of the unsustainable. They're taking on big box stores, shopping malls, and grid-connected homes in the car capitol of North America. And they're not just creating new art. They're seizing the opportunity to turn old shells of buildings into independent, renewable energy-powered, 21st century-ready spaces.

15 March 2009

Thinking inside the Square

One's hopes for the Gosford Challenge's renewal of Gosford town centre were confounded by the announced call for a new cafe operator to replace the old one in Kibble Park.

"The café/restaurant boasts a unique location; having a northerly aspect overlooking the central park (Kibble Park) of Gosford utilised for passive recreation. The site is adjacent to the main shopping precinct of Gosford amongst the central business district and is supported by car parking and other public amenities in close proximity.
Responses are invited from proponents with the capability, vision and relevant experience to establish the Kibble Park café/restaurant at Gosford."

Somehow it seems that an opportunity, one of the few going, is being lost, when there are so many civic functions and cultural amenities not accommodated in the heart of town.

Replacing one cafe with another, is hardly thinking outside the square, and is probably putting the cart before the horse, or simply putting the cart with no horse. In Texas there is a 'one horse town' with interesting attitudes.

19 February 2009

Henry Kendall

We received a message recently responding to the Kendall’s Rock post. It contained an image of a ‘newspaper’ clipping from the 1930’s showing Joe Fagan standing beside the rock on which Henry Kendall and his companions, is supposed to have engraved his initials. It would appear to be a copy of the photograph from the Keith Compton collection also reproduced in The Fagans, the Cottage and Kendall published by the Brisbane Water Historical Society.

Early in the 20th Century, the ‘rock pool in the glen’, with its waterfall, was a place to visit and enjoy, and it is a tragedy that it has been treated with such disrespect and neglect recently.
I have been informed that it is now inaccessible, and that the rock itself had to be protected by a mesh fence to prevent others ‘stooping to trace their names upon a stone’. One man’s graffiti tag is …etc.

And now:

More images

05 February 2009

Whats the BIG IDEA!?

The following instructions were presented at the Idea Exchange referred to in the last post.

"In the spirit of all those ‘big thing’, town branding initiatives (big banana, prawn, merino etc.), it is proposed to erect a Big Idea in Gosford.

An idea, no matter how large, being immaterial, can be inserted into the urban fabric at a cost acceptable to even the most conservative local government agency, and no planning permission is needed.

We are asking for your help in selecting a site for the BIG IDEA.

We suggest consideration of a position so that the new ‘big idea’ will be between the viewer and an existing bad idea, object or building etc.

The ‘big idea’ will be transparent, of course, so we expect there will be no quibbles on aesthetic ground, but once it is in place the view will never be the same again.

Place a green ‘dot’ on the map where you would like to see the BIG IDEA in Gosford.


The majority of sites suggested were on the western and southern sides of the stadium, although one prominent local councillor nominated the western side of the Olympic Pool.

20 January 2009

Big Idea for Gosford

In the spirit of the big banana, merino etc., you are being asked for your help in siting a 'big thing' idea in Gosford as a way of boosting the town's identity and tourism.

To help with your input, a map has been provided at the IDEA EXCHANGE BUREAU, level 1, Town Centre Shopping Complex, Gosford, until the 26th of January.

02 January 2009

A pedestrian year

Happy New Year!

2009 brings hope for new things in the quest to redress some of the town's problems and fulfill its potential. We should see some outcomes in the Gosford Challenge process and it would be nice to think that the people steering the planning are prepared to think outside the usual developer oriented approach.

A couple of graphic comments, and a thought about pedestrian oriented initiatives for urban revival from Jan Gehl. (Think Mann Street between Erina and Donnison Streets)

Mr. Gehl’s core message remains so simple it sounds almost like a proverb. It goes like this: “Cultures and climates differ all over the world, but people are the same. They will gather in public if you give them a good place to do it.”
Urban sustainability rarely seems so straightforward, ensnarled as it is in thorny issues of land use and energy consumption, housing prices and unemployment rates, roads and transit lines, density and sprawl. In many of the world’s cities, however – North American cities in particular – there might be no single problem that encompasses them all as fully as the decision made after World War II to give top priority to the automobile in every urban quarter and under essentially every circumstance. And as Mr. Gehl’s clients are learning, there is no more economical or efficient way to begin sorting out this knot of problems than to simply restore people to their rightful place above cars in the urban hierarchy.

The full text of the article can be found here.