April 08, 2014

Horse 1649 - Ten Suburbs. No.18 Liberty Grove 2138

Liberty Grove is a quiet and relaxing lifestyle suburb filled with lush greenery and many spots to sit and relax. However, Liberty Grove also has many facilies to keep residents active such as tennis courts, basketball court, bike track, two pools and two large parks.
The serenity and tranquility of Liberty Grove gives nothing away to the fact that it is located only 16 kilometers from the Sydney CBD. Liberty Grove is a place where residents feel that they have escaped from the daily hustle and bustle, and where they have the chance so simply relax.
All Liberty Grove amenities have been created for the exclusive use of residents, so that they have a sense of privacy and can feel at home throughout the whole of the estate.
- from the Liberty Grove website.

The suburb of Liberty Grove was opened in 1998 in the run up to the Sydney Olympic Games. Jammed in between Homebush Bay Drive and the Northern Line railway, it feels exceptionall cramped and sterile. Liberty Grove to look at is kind of like a giant retirement village and as I've found at, shares many aspects with one.

The blanket speed limit in Liberty Grove is 20km/h. What's not immediate obvious though is that this is in fact unenforceable by the Department of  Roads and Maritime Services because all of the roads in Liberty Grove are private. They are technically Private Access Ways and not Public Roads as defined by the Roads Act 1993.
Because of this quirk, it means that the estate itself can set internal by-laws, even if they are technically inenforceable. For this reason (and the fact footpaths tend to be non-existent), the local "Parking and Traffic Sub-Committee" has banned L-Plate drivers from driving within the suburb; a feature shared with Centennial Park.

I suppose that Liberty Grove is similar to a gated community or a retirement village in that it employs its own security staff. It has only got a single shop and no transport links within its borders (features it shares with Dharruk) but it is less than a mile away from Rhodes Shopping Centre and Rhodes railway station; so it isn't like it is far away from everything. It is also a short walk from Bicentennial Park and you could even be at the Olympic stadium within 20 minutes if you walked.

Liberty Grove is the sort of thing that pulls into question what a suburb actually is. The word suburb comes from the Latin "suburbium" and the two parts sub+urbae; which means "under the city". This was due to the fact that in Rome, wealthy citizens often have villas in the higher parts whilst the plebs tended to live in the lower parts.
I find in Cicero's "In Defense of Sextus Roscius of Ameria" (c.80BC) that he referred to the large walled estates and villas as "suburbia". Liberty Grove I think, meets Cicero's criteria quite nicely.

Australia has only a few actual gated communities and I suppose that a lot of issues don't quite apply but this piece from America's NPR was interesting.
I do wonder what creating a spatial enclave like this actually does for the residents though. Does it add to a sense of security because outsiders can be easily identified or does it make residents more paranoid? Is Liberty Grove an social experiment to find to the answer? I don't know.

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