District Docklands Community Garden is no more
Despite the continuous efforts of the Neighbourhood House and its volunteer gardeners, the District Community Garden is coming to an end with its condition in rapid decline.
A once-flourishing green space for a community that otherwise lacks space to grow their own flowers, herbs and vegetables, the garden is now deteriorating.
While the responsibility of the garden belongs to The District Docklands and Development Victoria, the Neighbourhood House is also strongly connected with the project.
Despite expressing hopes last year to Dockland News that the garden would be revived, Neighbourhood House community development officer Jason Butcher said there were “a lot of uncertainties” that played a part in its demise.
“Particularly the last six months and the entirety of the whole lockdown have been really hard on the community garden and people just couldn’t get out and take care of the space as much as they wanted to,” he said.
Resource issues and an inconsistent time frame were also cited as major problems for the garden during the past few months.
“We had a lot of challenges ensuring there were basic resources to the site, and there were continual short time frames and extensions with the leasing arrangements,” Mr Butcher said.
If you plant something that is going to take three months to come into fruition and you don’t know if you will have that amount of time, you aren’t going to bother planting anything. So, particularly the time frames meant we were really hard pressed trying to find any sort of resources and it left us unable to apply for funding.
In response to maintenance issues, The District Docklands could only share that the lease of the current site was nearing its expiry, and an “alternative future site is being explored.”
Both the Neighbourhood House and The District Docklands responded to Docklands News saying that there had been discussions of a possible future site.
Under licence with The District Docklands owner Ashe Morgan, the garden’s lease from NewQuay developer MAB Corporation will expire in April.
Last month, MAB launched community consultation for its next major development at the 396-416 Docklands Drive site.
According to its masterplan for the new mixed-use precinct bordered by Waterfront Way, Little Docklands Drive and St Mangos Lane, the site where the current community garden is located is mooted for a tower and a strip of townhouses.
While some in the community have raised fears that the community garden could be scrapped altogether, Group Head, Precincts at Development Victoria Geoff Ward said MAB’s masterplan also included plans for a community garden closer to Docklands Primary School.
“MAB [did] recently consult with the community on plans for a future community park in this precinct,” Mr Ward said.
“We’re looking at a range of options for a community space that will widely support and be enjoyed by locals in this area of Docklands – and also working with Neighbourhood House on what would be welcomed.”
The new community park will be situated further down Little Docklands Drive at the corner of St Mangos Lane opposite the primary school, and according to MAB, “will belong to the council and the chosen landscape design will be guided by the needs of these groups.”
Until the day comes to “revisit the idea of another full-fledged garden”, Mr Butcher said the Neighbourhood House planned to conduct in-depth community consultations to find out exactly what people were needing and wanting in the area.
“There is a real desire in Docklands for spaces that are for the community by the community,” he said •