NEW LIFE: The site was once a nursery with a beautiful lagoon and popular cafe.
NEW LIFE: The site was once a nursery with a beautiful lagoon and popular cafe. TREVOR VEALE

Overgrown garden oasis to bloom again

PLANS to breathe new life into an overgrown garden oasis in Sawtell have been given the tick of approval.

The family owned Cockbains Nursery, at Hogbin Dr, Sawtell closed its doors more than three years ago, marking the end of a 40-year era for the 1.4h site.

As the site gradually fell into a state of disrepair a number of plans were floated including initial interest from a buyer who wanted to fill in the lagoon, bulldoze the remaining gardens and build a service station on the property.

Ultimately it was the Sawtell Catholic Care of the Aged who seized the opportunity, purchasing the site in February last year with a vision to retain the magical ambience and the natural beauty of the former nursery as part of the Marion Grove Village vision.

But as SCCA communications co-ordinator Michelle Royce explains, it will be much more than just an extension of the Marian Grove aged care village which adjoins the site.

Nursery site taken over by mater christi .. 05 April 2018
The cafe will be re-opened as part of the plans. Trevor Veale

Plans, which include re-opening the cafe and establishing a sensory garden, were approved by Coffs Harbour City Council last week.

The two bungalows and large shed on the site will also be modified to create multi-purpose buildings available for various community groups. Work will include a new balcony off the bungalows looking over the lagoon which will be returned to its former glory.

BACK IN THE DAY: Plans include returning the lagoon to its former glory.
BACK IN THE DAY: Plans include returning the lagoon to its former glory.

"We did a lot of community consultation when we first bought the site so we knew we wanted to create a community hub for all ages and walks of life,” Ms Royce said.

The programs on offer will range from arts based through to community gardening, food preparation and activities of daily living and physical movement such as Tai Chi and dancing.

This innovative connected community model is based on precedents from the UK and Europe that have been piloted over the last four years.

It addresses priority issues for older people like social isolation and the stigma associated with ageing and dementia.

Work will begin in the coming months.