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City News

Community garden faces the shovel

The community garden on Erskineville Rd. Photo: Paul Gregoire

The Erskineville Road Community Garden could be turfed out, with the City of Sydney proposing to move it to a more “suitable” site.

The garden was created in 2009  on a block of land that had been vacant for decades.

“It’s kind of like a gorilla garden that the council hasn’t endorsed and it’s been there about five years,” the garden’s convenor, Julie Moffat, said.

“It was a vacant site that was owned by council and it’s been vacant since probably the 1970s.”

In July the City of Sydney’s environment committee recommended the garden not receive approval. But Ms Moffat told City News an administration error occurred during the process where 22 community submissions that were in favour of the garden went missing.

“So originally, they were saying 11 submissions not in favour of the garden and 12 that were in favour. So they said the community was split,” she said.

“But then when they found that they had this administration error they found 34 in favour of the garden and 12 not in support,” she said.

Greens councillor Irene Doutney said she was concerned about council selling the land and replacing the garden with more development.

“For it just to be sold to be made into another unit for a local developer is really a disappointing outcome,” Ms Doutney said.

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said the current garden did not meet council requirements and they were working to find a different site.

“This site does not meet the City’s criteria for community gardens because of several challenges including safe public access, large trees and lack of sunlight,” the spokesperson said.

“The City has been working with the community to find a solution, including looking at other locations in Erskineville that may be better suited for a community garden.”

But Ms Moffat said the garden has areas of both shade and plentiful sunlight, and there are double gates to access the site, so she remains uncertain about council’s objections.

“They’ve had many reasons over the years and it changes because I guess, they come up with different reasons,” she said.

“They do have a list of criteria and not many sites meet all that criteria anyway. They acknowledge that not all sites can meet their criteria.”

Mike Hatton, President of the Friends of Erskineville group, said any alternative sites would take away parkland from the community.

“The alternate proposals from the council involve taking away parkland in one of five sites,” he said. “My view is we have little enough parkland now without taking more away for a replacement garden.”