City Hill is the CBD now days. And what is with all the metro based consultants?

I will make the call now. I believe that in only a very short period of time, City Hill will be considered to be part of the Coffs Harbour CBD, due to the continued growth of Coffs Harbour.

By Rodger Pryce

The designated CBD continues to grow. There is very little to infill between the CBD and the Plaza, most usages now are business oriented.

The area between the CBD and the Jetty is exactly the same, businesses are being established between the 2 areas.

So when there is chatter about the importance of the CBD, let us look to the future and embrace City Hill as being a part of the CBD.

We can not stop people wanting to move here, so best we look at how we are going to manage the growth.

When people talk about looking after the CBD, the best way to manage it is to expand the boundaries.

When we first returned to Coffs Harbour in 1980, per head of population, it had I believe, the smallest area of zoned land for business use in NSW. Competition is a great driver of efficiency.

Open up the opportunities and diversity will be created, if you want residential in the CBD, the people who live there need to be able to have things to do.


And while on this topic what is it with Council’s constant use of metropolitan based consultants?

The basis for studies to determine outcomes for cities such as Coffs Harbour, are undertaken by principally metropolitan based consultancies.

These consultancies fail to identify what makes our city unique, the data they research is mainly based on large, multi-populated cities not only in Australia but often overseas.

Coffs Harbour has a thin, narrow, populated strip running mainly to the North, a sub regional centre being Sawtell/Toormina to the south and a large regional shopping centre, Park Beach Plaza.

Managment Consultant Meme | Change management, Management, Consulting
How consultants are perceived?

The rural sector is quite scattered, covering a large area.

The key element on which most of these reports draw their conclusions from, which does not work for Coffs Harbour, revolves around public transport.

The reports over the last few years concluding that Cultural amenities need to be located within the CBD, are based on comparisons with much larger, more densely populated residential areas.

The principal form of conveyance in the Coffs Harbour LGA is private motor vehicle, those wishing to attend cultural events, now and into the future will continue to use private motor vehicles.

Locating such facilities in the inner sanctum of the CBD is counter productive and actually wrong.

The studies and outcomes, being the work of major city consultants, fail to recognise and take into account the geographic and demographic peculiarities which comprise Coffs Harbour.

Makes my blood boil!

Hard earned rates collected by Council and just given away to consultants. Throw $200,000 here, $200,000 there, whoopie f—k, who cares?!

Daffy Duck | 3D Warehouse
Not this Little Black Duck!

Well, this ‘little black duck’ does!


Rodger Pryce is now semi-retired and farms in the CHCC LGA. Previously he was in real estate for many years and was the principal developer of the new Coles site in Harbour Drive.

He has also been involved in other developments locally.


The above was first published at the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook page on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 January 2021 as two separate posts are reproduced here s one with Rodger’s permission.

6 thoughts on “City Hill is the CBD now days. And what is with all the metro based consultants?

  1. It will be apparent to anyone with the eyes to see, that Coffs Harbour is blessed with human resources to match its natural resources. I am continually stunned and excited by the number and quality of comments made in this magazine and its Facebook page, in Coffs Coast Independent News, in Citizens’ Voice and in News of the Area, revealing the fact that any council worthy of the name, should be seeking out people who have expertise and experience, as well as any ordinary interested citizens, to ask what it is they want for the city.
    This excellent article, and others by people like Rob Steurmann, prove that the brains are within the community, and less so within the council. Although the soon-to-be-ex-mayor would never countenance the idea, I’d like to think that her replacement will give some thought to setting up a true community consultation process.
    I’ll be asking my potential candidates for election, if they’d be prepared to try something like this:
    1. Set up an electronic facility by which people can both praise and make complaints to council, or make suggestions for improvements to our locality.
    2. Have a real person or people respond to each and every communication, even if it’s only to say “we’ll get back to you” or “no, we can’t do that because . . . ” or “we’ll look closely at your suggestion, and then get back to you”.
    3. Ask for volunteers to join an advisory body which can investigate the feasibility and efficacy of proposed projects, regardless of the origins of the ideas, before any money is spent or any formal discussion is held, and certainly before any motions are put to council.
    4. Report to residents, the outcomes of such investigations, inviting final comments before debate leading to decision-making takes place.
    5. With each rates notice in each year, communicate in summary, the praise, the complaints, the suggestions, and the actions arising from all three of these, so that people can be informed, instead of being treated like mushrooms.
    Is this a good idea? Perhaps.
    Could it work? Perhaps.
    Could such a thing happen? Who knows?

    1. But Julian such measures would dilute the power and control of the GM and Council Executive and put it back in the hands of Ratepayers. By the way this should be read with the article on GM salaries here on CCO. This is all connected.
      City Hill is off the radar because the GM and Council Executive say so. Supposed constraints to future development such as koalas and flooding are a smokescreen and even if true can be overcome. Property developers deal with these issues on a daily basis and development hasn’t ground to a halt has it? It’s called planning.
      I recommend that everyone visit City Hill to view the fantastic new Bunker development and while there take note of the road surface which is too narrow and is breaking up. I understand that Council are refusing to widen the road or repair the surface despite the fact that the entire ring road is either public road or on Council property. This says everything in my view.

  2. I would commend the above suggestions by Julian “‘Fake news,’ formerly known as bullshit” May to people to review, think over, and consider as wonderful example of how a city can reinvent itself – from within. I would hope, too, it kicks off ideas and suggestions from others.

    (One of the best lines I’ve read, by the way, JM.)

    Three examples come immediately come to mind where a community decided to get a grip, own the problem, and produce their own solution.

    The first is Tasmania — an entire state that felt itself being left out of the changing world gathered a grouping led by Saul Eslake and created a plan – that word used correctly by leadership – to promote its qualities and opportunities. I think it sent out a newsletter under ‘Brand Tasmania’ which is now ‘Tourism Tasmania’ to which you can subscribe and see glimpses of what they’ve done. Tassie, now, has possibly the most thriving ‘creative industry culture’ in the country.

    The second is within the state: Burnie. It was going broke. Instead of asking a consultant (who for a fee takes off your watch and reads you the time – who was the gruff old developer who said that?), Burnie reinvented itself through its own community effort to become a major mountain bike destination, and is also a town now thriving.

    The third is directly relevent to Rodger Pryce’s article above. And it takes me back.

    Remember the Sharpie? That haircut? And the Westie? Quaint now, yet when you had to visit Parramatta forty or fifty years ago, those were the people who owned the streets. Knives these days are more commonplace, in yesteryears the youth carried them in Parramatta, Redfern and Leichardt. But these kids would rather bash you. Much more fun.

    Parramatta, and indeed those other suburbs now they’re mentioned, were dangerous billabongs of humanity, dirty, filthy actually, and forgotten and where the law was as lost as those who lost it. They were no places to visit unless you had to.

    Rodger Pryce has put forward City Hill as included in what will, before you know, be Coffs Harbour’s CBD, according to his vision, or, rather, a prescient little gift of some of that vision. That actually takes a bit of guts to do. Putting forward a vision for a city trembles the lovely day-to-day comfort of our already taxed thinking and often we don’t want to know about it. It challenges us, and we don’t often like that either.

    Unfortunately, yet again, the need to clarify ‘vision’ arises because that word is used by people from our shambolic little Country Town government who have lassoo-ed its values to promote and market an ill-conceived agenda that it has no moral right to use at all. So when we here talk about vision, let’s give the word and wash and scrub and remove it of that filthying.

    Is it such a big thing to embrace the futuristic idea that City Hill will be in the CBD? Not at all. Which brings us back to Parramatta, that third on the list, and reinvisioned concepts of a CBD itself.

    Parramatta is geographically the center of greater Sydney. Thought it was the City? The brilliant harbour and built City makes it seem that the centre of Sydney’s urban development, but dirty dangerous Parramatta is.

    And someone didn’t like that. Someone said “we can do better” and saw – envisioned – a future of Parramatta that would alter it into a brand new living entity.

    Apparently, that person’s vision was accepted by someone else. This resulted in what is now called The Greater Sydney Commission and I urge you to have a look:

    This is a group that grew internally with the vision to transform Parramatta into a healthy, vibrant urban centre. And if you have a look you’ll see Parramatta is Sydney’s second CBD of which the vision is for three.

    We tend to condemn all things government, and with good reason, but the State government is taking a long hard look at how utterly bad its planning has been, in a way no different from ours in Coffs, where the City is choked and there is nowhere to go but up. Not good enough, it reckons, so it’s setting about re-envisioning the whole damn shebang.

    So let me add my bit to this. What greater Sydney is setting about doing, trying to achieve, will very, very soon be the fastest growth industry on the planet: re-envisioning cities. It probably already is. Why this need? Because cities were never envisioned, at their inception, for what happened to them. The old concept of living outside of the CBD and travelling to it for work, shopping and culture, and back home, has resulted in trillions thrown at tunnels and overhead and underarse freeways, not because they’re visionary, but because they’re just playing bloody catch up.

    So my next step is to say the concept of the CBD itself will in the future be a relic.

    Have a look at what they’ve done with Parramatta. Look at the walkways and waterway. That all started because someone like Rodger Pryce had the damn temerity to look ahead.

    The one thing that Denise Knight, Steve McGrath, George Cecato, Michael Adendorff, Paul Amos, Sally Townley and Tegan Swan, and the current Council executive, as a unit, have taught us, is that Coffs Harbour is still a country town.

    This council uses grand-sounding words. Plan. Master plan. Future. 50 years. Vision. Culture. Civic.

    It has no real right to. These are borrowed terms, not owned terms. They are as hollow as the forgotten backwater of the old Parramatta and Leichardt was hollowed of safety and growth. Riddled with the poor-person’s needs, sold to you with full regalia.

    One day Coffs Harbour’s governing will have to face a reckoning. We are technically a city, but governed today as we always have been as a country town, a country town now borrowing big-sounding names.

    If now isn’t the best time to reclaim the proper use of those terms, to scrap the entire old-country-town little mindset and genuinely embrace the inescapable future, then we’ll never have one. It’ll simply be too late. It is almost too late already.

    We have to take a big breath, do what the places mentioned above have done, and own the problem, then fix it ourselves. That means getting rid of what is holding us back.

    The very thing holding us back is the very thing giving you the bullshit. We need to begin by re-envisioning our Council. Take that step, break the ties to the poor person’s hodgepodge substitute for the real thing, which comes with the big mouth, and get to the real future. The proven models are there for how communities do it for themselves. We can be one of them.

  3. Anyone who’s now had a chance to look upon the various views of re-envisioned Parramatta may well have noticed the visual similarities of its lay-out: Parramatta Park which was re-created from a toxic waterway with its council notices banning citizens from going near it, to now a masterpiece natural centrepiece singing with the sounds of kids playing, as our little Coffs Creek is placed nearby, south then to the mindblowing built environment where a single corporation owns a block the size of our entire CBD, and more, adjacent to it.

    Big, real big. Too big, probably, for what Coffs would want. Though you’d have to be brave to rule out the size of that development in Coffs in a world one hundred years from now.

    But what it shows is how it’s done with class. True visionary minds reinventing the urban centre. People who genuinely know what they’re doing.

    And you’ll see, too, at a glimpse, how besotted our little council’s heads would be had they been given the same photos, as in the link, from a salivating consultant quivering to show them those very shots. Show the Country Town eyes and watch the big mouths gape – three photos and the consultant, and the architect, has got ’em on the hook. The big-fee payout in the bank, the PR lines already made.

    It’s very difficult to imagine that our little council has not been shown what they’ve done with Parramatta. Almost impossible to reject the influence of it. And so, too, the architect, who’s head seems filled with the same need to have mimicked it.

    So if you’re wondering why our Country Town council got lost along the way, so shaking with urgency and wanting to play with the big boys, so happily willing to assassinate the communal fabric that has until now made our living here pleasant, so blind, so deaf, so insular, retreated into their cliques of “do anything at any cost” hatred of hearing from you, the citizen, you need look no further than what the big boys did with Parramatta.

    So here we are, in Coffs Harbour, with a council that had no mind to take it, to handle it, to understand it, hellbent on this thing they’re calling the CCS. To think of those careful, thoughtful minds who envisioned development in Parramatta, over thirty years, applying vast experiences and proven high-talent, to re-envision an urban landscape, to have all of that knowledge and wisdom lassoo-ed by our misfit outfit, makes me sick. So too anyone who can see the difference.

    Those in our council have taken that thirty years of care and proper planning, proper vision, and bastardised it.

    You have been given the poor-person’s mimic and a poor mimicry at that.

    Try this. This might help anyone who’s struggling to see the difference between what our adrift outfit are wanting to do, and what has been properly done. If you go to the Fire Station in Market St, tie a rope around a pole, then walk that rope all the way to Park Beach Plaza and tie it to a pole at the service station, then walk it east, put on a wetsuit, swim to sea a few hundred yards and set a buoy for it, then swim south to the north wall, get out, dry yourself off, and tie the rope around a pole there, and then the walk up Harbour Drive to join it all up at the Fire Station again – if you draw out that square, that’s the size of the Council Administration building you’d find at Parramatta.

    That’s what Denise Knight, Steve McGrath, Sally Townley, Michael Adendorff and the stunningly brilliant mind of George Cecato have done with the true, careful, expert vision of thirty years application in Parramatta.

    Picture the size of that roped circumference. Fill that rope in with council administration offices. One massive, massive council administration. Now mentally pick up that administration block and place in the centre of the Parramatta CBD.

    There you go. If those people above had done to Parramatta what they’re wanting to do to you, that’s the size of Parramatta’s new council building.

    Acres upon acres upon acres upon acres of a brand new Council Administration.

    That’s their ‘vision’ for you. That’s what they think is a good thing. That’s what they think people will turn off the bypass to come and be in.

    Can you see such a bastardisation at Parramatta? Can you see the equivalently-sized brand new Parramatta Council Building in what they’ve done?

    And I’ll give you something else to consider, which I really love. Until now, that mental exercise hasn’t been done. That physical equivalence of usage hasn’t been made. And what I love is that we didn’t need to. The Coffs community has largely ‘got it’. We got it. We got it intuitively, we got it from the gaping mouth exploding fireworks of plastic flowers, we intuited it, we saw it, we got it every which damn way. It is bullshit, and we get it.

    Now let’s not be harmful about this. There are reasons why people can become so debased in their thinking and so utterly lost to decency and care.

    So let’s now imagine Singleton, a town of 16,135 people, in 2011, about ten years ago. There’s one of your answers, folks. That’s where your General Manager came from.

    Need we go on? Denise Knight. What’s her experience, her history? Sally Townley? Michael Adendorff? George Cecato? How many cities have these people envisioned and developed, over thirty years of high-end expertise? How many re-envisioned Parramatta’s do they come to you with, in their experience? What are their histories, their knowledge and experience? Do they have the knowledge, experience and expertise to ‘envision’ our growing city?

    No wonder this Country Town Council comes to you with a big mouth. It has to. That’s all it’s got, to make sense of what’s in their persuaded heads. It can’t make the case on facts and truths nor even common sense.

    That building – a proper title for the CCS from which they resile in fear of it’s commonplace usage, having to steer well clear of connotation, big-mouthing it instead as a ‘space’ (and you can see why, when you see it’s comparative bulk) – that building in their minds and on drawn plans, being hurriedly scribbled over again as you read, could also be viewed as the fifty-year-old’s brand new sports car, with its ease-back open roof. Or the word TRUMP spelled huge across a facade so it’s in your face. Or spray-painted letters to make them look gold. Or cubic zirconia on a ring to make it look diamond.

    These are all attempts to appear bigger, appear grand and important.

    When a Country Town council knows it has to be big, because it is having to manage a city, and doesn’t have the greatness of spirit to admit it’s not up to scratch, that’s what it does. It tries to make itself look big and important and capable. We know this because our LGA is where this very thing is happening.

    Tom Strickland, who’s been there, has said the current council building is perfectly fine for operating from within, and his comment gave the impression that it would be so for well into the future. He also made the prescient remark that societies are moving towards working more from home. Thank you, Tom. Some genuine, grounded common sense.

    Well, again I’ll go one step further. If you have a brand new council, re-envisioned, with big minds and long on experience, and the joys of knowing it’s up to the job, and the inspiration to provide the real thing for you, it will gladly operate out of a tin shed. Proper vision is like that. It doesn’t feel the need to make itself look bigger or grander. It already is.

    True vision is its own reward.

    Editor: I think this is the link referred to above by 40-cm;

    1. One of your best commentaries to date 40cm. You’ve nailed it!

      You’ve accurately exposed this council’s dearth of talent, lack of real-world experience and it’s bloody-mindedness.

      Paras. 6 to 10 are masterful.

      1. Well indeed, thank you, CLB – who’s writing I admire. Do you know what I hope, though? I hope the supporters of the so-called CCS have a look at how true vision is enacted with true expertise and knowledge.

        I understand the hungriness to get “something” done, and the way this misfit outfit called CHCC sold the CCS to people, with borrowed terms and high-sounding promises, went straight into that dry-earth hunger and felt good.

        I hurt for what they could have if the right people were in charge of providing a true cultural plan, and indeed a proper vision for the city. It would make them sing with joy. Instead, they’re getting given this mangled rubbish.

        To say the people who oppose the CCS are anti-development is one of the casualties of the horrid way the CHCC has gone about their rubbish: mangling not only the vision but the method of trying to implement it. Public knowledge and listening got lost.

        And do you know what is ironic? Rid the current misfit council of the supporters of the rubbish-y CCS, and those who own property in the city centre, and those who are swayed by such, are likely to gain inestimable value mid-to-long term from a council that knows what it’s doing, is smart and not knee-jerk sold, has experience and history enough to know what information to seek and reject, and sets about a true vision not just for the CBD but the entire region. By getting booted out, these councillors and management would actually be given a favour.

        So the better conversation and actual truth of it is that those who oppose the CCS actually want to give those who support it something vastly superior!

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