Monday, January 18, 2016

Social change in Sydney - In memory of Gardens-R-Us

A week back, Gardens-R-Us at Eastlakes finally closed to be replaced apparently by mixed use high rise. I knew that it was closing, but didn't know the story, including the ownership by the Piggins of South Sydney fame.

Gardens-R-Us has been at least a small part of my life since we moved to Rosebery in 2000. It has been my source for plants, seeds, fertiliser and mulch through all my varying gardening phases.

The land was owned by Sydney Water. If you regard Sydney Water as a State owned business whose key role is to make a return on capital then its sale makes sense. If you regard it as a public asset, perhaps not. In any case, the land has gone despite the petitions against the sale.

I used to enjoy Gardens-R-Us. It was a a very nice place to walk through. You started with an indoor area with running water and a bridge through  the greenery and then proceeded on a circuit through different combinations of plants and garden supplies. I loved the herb section. There you could smell and feel.

It's all gone now. The demolition people have moved in. Buildings will replace the open space. If it is high rise, I will be able to see it from my backyard. More broadly, the area I live in is undergoing fundamental change with the light rail coming through. As a heritage area, the little pocket handkerchief that is Daceyville will survive in visual form. However, the character will not. In particular, the social housing areas that formed the heart of the suburb will go.

Cash is tight, priorities must be set. With private house prices already over the million dollar mark, with those prices likely to rise because of architecture and proximity to transport and the city, each social housing house or unit in Daceyville will provide two to three units elsewhere.

I'm not sure how long the process will take. The combination of inertia with planning and approval processes builds in major lags. My best guess would be about fifteen years.

Change is inevitable. Just recording one aspect of the process.    

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