THE company behind a $500 million Chinese theme park proposed for Warnervale withdrew a development application for part of the controversial project on Thursday.
Australia China Theme Park said it intended to submit a revised DA for the development.
Critics of the proposal say the rethink is further evidence the Chappypie Chinese Theme Park will never get off the ground.
Central Coast Council, however, expects the proponents to push ahead.
“Representatives of the Australia China Theme Park have advised council that they are revising the staging of their proposed development at Warnervale,” a council spokesperson said.
“The applicant has advised they are working on a new DA for the Buddhist temple, which will replace the DA which was withdrawn.”
The temple would form Stage 1 of the development.
Later stages would include accommodation, as well as an opera theatre, exhibition centre, amusement rides, and other theme park elements.
“Council continues to assess the rezoning application for the site which seeks to make the accommodation and other theme park elements permissible,” the spokesperson said.
The project was first announced five years ago, but not one sod of soil has been turned.
The proposal was supported by the former Wyong Shire Council.
In 2014, Wyong councillors voted 5-4 to support the spot rezoning of 15.7 hectares of council land at Warnervale for the theme park.
But the sacking this month of Wyong and Gosford councillors to facilitate the newly formed Central Coast Council places further doubt over the theme park’s future.
The state government appointed Ian Reynolds as administrator of the new council. He will continue in that role until the local government elections in September next year.
That places Mr Reynolds in the hot seat.
“My understanding is the current DA is withdrawn, so we are awaiting the submission of a revised proposal which would come before me, presumably, to determine at some stage,” Mr Reynolds said.
”Council’s involvement is as a land seller to the proponent. There are certain conditions attached to that sale including obtaining development approval.”
The protracted theme park saga was featured on the television program A Current Affair on Thursday night.
The story did little to instill community confidence in the development.
Reporter Steve Marshall said the project had promised plenty but “so far has delivered nothing but shiploads of controversy”.
The story highlighted Australian China Theme Park’s failure to meet the deadline for payment of a deposit on the Warnervale land, and raised questions about the “great wall of secrecy surrounding the project’s funding”.
Former Wyong councillor Bob Graham, who opposed the project from the beginning, said he had been vindicated.
“I’ve always said it would never get off the ground, and I think my thoughts now have been justified,” he said.
“It’s a farce, and it’s not going to happen.”
The story also featured old interviews with former mayor Doug Eaton reiterating his support for the project.
“It’ll be bigger and better than the Gold Coast,” Mr Eaton said.
“If they [Australia China Theme Park] can deliver, and I think they can, then it’s going to be something I will continue to support.”
Last year, Mr Eaton said the project had the potential to deliver significant benefits to the region.
“This is a development, along with a regional airport, that can completely transform our shire and turn us into a key tourist destination,” he said.
“We desperately need more local jobs, particularly for our young people, and thousands of local jobs will be created during construction alone, which is great news.
“The spin-offs in terms of tourism jobs and dollars flowing in our shire are huge and it will really put Wyong Shire on the map.”
The future of the proposed $48 million regional airport at Warnervale is now also uncertain following the merging of Wyong and Gosford councils.