EXCLUSIVE: On Wednesday this week Channel TEN sent out an alert to media claiming Canterbury Council in Sydney was “in the process of destroying a site” that the Guerrilla Gardeners had madeover in its first episode.
It did so on the same day the show goes to air.
But TEN jumped the gun, not just on who was supposedly making changes to the site, but on whether any changes were actually happening at all.
A spokesperson for Canterbury Council told TV Tonight the property belongs to Rail Corp, adding: “We are obviously wanting Channel TEN to send out a retraction and apology as this site is not our property. Canterbury Council is not doing any work on it or ‘destroying’ it as they claim.”
The next day TEN had retreated from its initial alarm bells.
“We got it wrong,” said the network. “Canterbury Council was not in the process of tearing down the “Guerrilla Hit” at Canterbury Rail Station as stated in yesterday’s somewhat over-eager alert, prompted by a tip off from a concerned local.”
Producer Nick Murray says an article in a local newspaper this week quoted a mayor criticising the show for not seeking approval from either Canterbury Council or Rail Corp. When a concerned local saw a council crew near they site, they assumed they were about to rip out the installation and promptly called TEN reception.
“We sent out a producer and found the council were working adjacent to the site,” Murray later explained.
But does Rail Corp own the property? Not necessarily.
“Our property management team did a search and apparently it is a piece of privately-owned land,” a Rail Corp spokesperson told TV Tonight.
They also confirmed the land remains intact, with the Guerrilla Gardeners installation remaining untouched.
But Canterbury Council again said the land was owned by Rail Corp.
“Once upon a time council had a library around that site,” said a spokesperson. “We had an arrangement with Rail Corp for the land to put the library on.”
For its part, the Guerrilla producers say confusion over land ownership is what leads to site degradation and the opportunity for them to strike.
“Like many of the sites, there is some doubt about the ownership of the land at Canterbury,” says Nick Murray. ” We think that’s why it gets left barren. The council thinks it is owned by State Rail and State Rail thinks it’s council land.
– no changes have taken place to site since the Guerrillas made it over.