Council slammed over latest “attack” on residents

No doubt you’ve heard about the craze of footpath gardening, where residents of a street grow veggies and fruits on

No doubt you’ve heard about the craze of footpath gardening, where residents of a street grow veggies and fruits on the council-owned verges in front of their homes?

Well, one community is facing a battle against their local council over red tape.

The Sunshine Coast town of Buderim has 11 streets taking part in the Urban Food Street program, which was an Aussie first when it began in 2009.

Now, seven years later the Sunshine Coast Council has sent residents a letter demanding they get a permit and $20 million of public liability insurance to be able to continue to grow their footpath gardens.

One of the residents who started the initiative told the ABC the residents were shocked because council officers had been inspecting the project since it began.

Caroline Kemp said the residents wanted to work with the council to sort the issue out.

“We’re not sure what’s instigated this attack on this neighbourhood at this time, and the residents feel a bit perplexed as to why the council was unable to approach them,” she said.

“The letter asserts that if someone hurts themselves on a verge and that person sues council, then council will sue the homeowner.”

She believes the cost of public liability insurance would threaten the footpath gardens.

The project has reportedly brought joy to many people, including a 90-year-old women who has two avocado trees growing out the front of her home.

“She engages with people … sitting on her patio in the morning, she will talk to people going past,” Ms Kemp said.

“At 90 she’s not applying for a permit, she’s not taking out public liability insurance, so immediately — unless the community would pick up that expense for her — she’s excluded.”

Read more: Community spirit to grow in the garden on the foothpath

You might be wondering what the council has to say for itself?

Well, according to one councillor public safety has to come first.

Division 7 councillor Ted Hungerford told the ABC some of the gardens had been over planted and were become “obstacle courses and hazards for people using it”.

“In some instances people can’t even walk along the verge and they’ve got to walk along the road,” he said.

“Cars and people don’t really mix.”

He said the permit system would be free, and would allow council staff to work with residents on where they could plant the gardens to make sure people could still walk on the footpath.

According to Cr Hungerford, the council wants them to continue the project in way that’ll be safe for the whole community.

Apparently, some of the residents could have the public liability insurance through their home insurance – according to the councillor.

The council has been slammed on the ABC News Facebook page, with people describing the rules as “nonsensical” and “out of touch”

The news comes just months after the Brisbane City Council relaxed the guidelines surrounding allowing residents to plant footpath gardens.

What do you think about this? Is it a case of red tape going too far? Or should the residents be required to get the permit and insurance?



  1. Isabella  

    Doesn’t Council already have public liability insurance that would cover the verges and anything approved by Council? I would think that seeing as how they act as if they own it and can decide what is allowed to happen on it/its use, that THEY would be required to insure it and anything that happens on it? If they don’t, wouldn’t that signify that they don’t in fact own it?

  2. Surely the council has some public land apart from streets they could let residents grow vegetables on?

  3. Dianne  

    This has nothing to do with safety. It is council trying to add another revenue scheme to their coffers. They obviously underestimated the popularity of the garden scheme when it started and now want to muscle in. As it is technically their property they can’t charge rates so using safety as an excuse instead to try and take control

  4. Denton Holme  

    Typical Council looking for another money grab.Sunshine coast like all other Councils are full of Inane Ego driven individuals trying to leave their stamp on their local area. Bit like our MP’s, Oh that’s right,I keep forgetting,Council employee’s are aspiring MP’s,silly me.

  5. How does an expensive piece of paper change things? For goodness sake leave people alone.

  6. Neville Allen  

    According to that article the council will issue the permits for free, so where do you all get this money grab bit from? As a retired insurance broker I can see councils problem and yes, the property owners could well be pulled into a court case if a passer by is injured as a result of their activity on the foot path. If the residents have got house owners/householders insurance then their policy will cover them, so, again, there is no cost to the resident.
    Council have a right, no, a duty, to ensure that safety is not being compromised and issueing permits just gives them a data base to be able to follow up and check all is well and good, on their footpath.

    • Beverley Nelson  

      I like your well thought out answer. A few too many knee jerk reactions I think.

  7. I have not got a clue as to when your next local council election are but when ever they are why not vote them out as the residence the live in the area pay the councilors their wages through the rate and the dog license etc. so don’t they have to do what we ask them to do for us the tax payers.

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