Googong Community Garden causes angst in community

Ian Keys, Nicholas Luketic, Paul Finley and Carrol Keys are unhappy with the addition of the Googong Community Garden at the end of their street. Photo: Elliot Williams
Ian Keys, Nicholas Luketic, Paul Finley and Carrol Keys are unhappy with the addition of the Googong Community Garden at the end of their street. Photo: Elliot Williams

Googong is sold as a utopian village where everyone is happier and healthier.

Well it appears there is trouble in paradise.

Residents in Helen Circuit are furious after a community garden has been constructed at the end of their street after a process where they believe they were misled.

The garden was part of the Googong Township development and upon completion the land was gifted to the council where a licence will be struck between them and the Googong Residents’ Association (GRA).

The council agreed to move forward with the licence at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

The view residents claim has been ruined by the community garden. Photo: Elliot Williams

The view residents claim has been ruined by the community garden. Photo: Elliot Williams

Access to the garden is granted if residents pay a joining fee beginning at $35. Individual plots can be purchased for $50 with a refundable deposit.

The residents’ main concerns surround the fact the amenity of their street has been impacted and views from their properties are no longer what was promised.

Speaking on behalf of the residents, Nicholas Luketic, whose property directly neighbours the garden, said he also held fears for his small children whom he could watch easily from his property before. He said with the new fences and shrubs put in it has become a safety concern.

Despite the garden having 83 available plots, meaning a greater number of visitors to the area, no extra facilities such as toilets, bins or parking have been included.

The Googong Community Garden. Photo: Elliot Williams

The Googong Community Garden. Photo: Elliot Williams

The source of the residents’ primary displeasure, according to Mr Luketic, was a lack of any engagement from the Googong developers.

He said when representatives met with residents they left with an impression of a garden open to all, that included barbecue facilities and plants not a subscription-based vegetable garden.

“What was advertised to us was not what we got,” Mr Luketic said.

“None of us had a say, construction just started.”

Googong project director Malcolm Leslie said plans for the community garden had been approved by the council before any homesites were sold.

“The community garden was noted on all of the Googong town master plans and the sales plans for Stage 6 which were available to the public in 2014,” Mr Leslie said.

He added the development team met with nearby residents and changes to the proposed garden were introduced based on their feedback.

At the council meeting Cr Michele Biscotti, a Googong resident, said he was aware of the residents’ concerns but recommended the council execute the licence as the positives outweighed the negatives.

The GRA sees the garden as a community asset where children can be taught about healthy eating and organic food growing.

Mr Luketic said the Helen Circuit residents did not oppose the community garden in principle but said it would be better suited to a different area away from homes such as near the recycling station.

“If I had known this was going to be here I wouldn’t have bought here,” he said.

There will be an open day for the garden on November 11 at 10am.

Correction: A previous version of this article said the joining fee for the community garden was $100. This was incorrect.