Out of house and home: When developers buy your community

Thursday, 09 November 2017, 04:07:20 AM. They were homeowners who invested their life savings. Now many are walking away with almost nothing. And it's all legal.
They were homeowners who invested their life savings. Now many are walking away with almost nothing. And it's all legal. Photo: Homeowner James Paul stands amid the wreckage of what used to be his street in the Wantirna Caravan Park. (ABC News: Jane Cowan) Wantirna Caravan Park is a community slowly dismantling itself. It's hard to escape the sense of a neighbourhood razed by natural disaster. Of lives abandoned mid sip of the coffee cup. A year since developer Longriver bought the land for $35.6 million and announced plans to build townhouses, vacant blocks and house stumps have replaced neatly trimmed lawns and lovingly tended flower beds. The groans of heavy machinery cut through birdsong as another home is hoisted onto a truck, destined for a new lease on life elsewhere. Those that remain will be bulldozed along with the gum trees and the bottlebrush. The man at the controls of the crane does this for a living and has moved folks en masse from caravan parks before. But Wantirna is the saddest job he can recall. "This is horrendous, what's happened here." To be here now is to witness the end of a way of life. A citrus tree stands laden with fruit that will never be picked. A pumpkin atrophies on the vine. Mounds of junk are proliferating. Here a discarded fridge, door askew. There a vase of plastic flowers on a left-behind couch. On the floor of a half-demolished living room, a Ned Kelly biography lies splayed open. Propped against a car tyre, a watercolour frames a...Read more
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