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The number of trees that can be viewed on the skyline from far too many parts of Marrickville LGA can be counted on two hands. Suburbs like Dulwich Hill, Lewisham & Petersham have more trees visible on the skyline, but development is hot in these suburbs so the canopy may not last.
I accept that the loss of our big trees has to happen if units & other higher density housing are to be built. Occasionally, tall-growing replacement trees are included as part of new development, but in reality, the trend is to develop as much of the land as possible & landscape with small shrubs. Street trees & parks are expected to provide the outlook of taller trees.
In this month’s Development Assessment Committee Meeting, approval was given to chop down 11 mature trees at Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre, while 7 trees in Tempe, including a mature Canary Island Palm, will be considered for removal after a site inspection. This is a total of 18 large trees up for removal just for this month.
Last month, at least 36 trees, most of them massive trees, were up for removal in Petersham Park. Thankfully, this didn’t get approval. Coming up soon is the Brooks Lodge Dulwich Hill DA seeking approval to remove 11 trees, including a mature Canary Island Palm.
What I have noticed is Marrickville Council’s acceptance of the loss of mature palms that can quite easily be transplanted in another location. In my opinion, these trees are worth the trouble of saving as they will pay the cost back many times over the years. Why does Marrickville Council allow our old Palm trees to be thrown away?
Canary Island Palms are incredibly hardy, durable & water-wise trees. A Canary Island Palm that is around 18-20 metres will be between 80 & 100-years-old. It is not unusual for these trees to live for 160-years or more. They also provide food & habitat for a wide range of urban wildlife.
These trees are worth big money. I rang just one company for a quote. They charge by the metre for Canary Island palms & each metre of trunk costs $1,500 plus GST.
- a 10 metre tree will cost $15,000 plus GST – a total of $16,500.
- a 20 metre tree will cost $30,000 plus GST – a total of $33,000.
These prices are just to purchase the tree & do not cover delivery or installation.
Suffice to say that the presence of mature Canary Island Palms increases property value substantially. People want ‘statement trees’ because they are seen to add class, they finish off the property, they don’t want to wait half a lifetime for a tree to mature & because these are the trees you have when you don’t want to obstruct the view. Canary Island Palms are even sold on Second Life, which tells me that people have a love of these trees.
The mature Canary Island Palm at Pigott Street Dulwich Hill that is up for removal is located around 3 metres from a boundary fence to Hoskins Park. The tree could easily be dug out with a grader, carried next door & planted in Hoskins Park, thereby retaining at least some of the history of Pigott Street. If not in the park, then there are countless round-a-bouts & corners in Marrickville LGA where a tree like this would significantly improve the streetscape. I recognize that trees are the casualties of development, but I do not accept that Marrickville Council cannot at the very least, retain trees that can be relocated. It is unbelievable & sad that the most likely action will be to give approval to chop it down probably because Council will say the process of relocating it would be too difficult.
This week I counted the following trees around the current Marrickville Metro & the block where they intend to expand.
67 Fig trees, 9 Brush Box trees, 3 Camphor laurel trees, 8 Eucalypts, 4 Palm trees, 1 Canary Island Palm, 2 Melaleuca trees, 8 Bottlebrush trees, 4 Peppercorn trees, 10 Wattle trees & 26 unidentified species of trees.
TOTAL POTENTIAL TREE LOSS = 142 trees
There are another 24 medium trees on site that may be included in the development bringing the potential total tree loss to 166 trees.
AMP Capital say the Fig trees only have an average 5-15 years left to live. In ideal conditions, Figs live 150-200 years. Although these trees are not in ideal conditions they are very healthy. To replace the trees they plan to plant 28 Eucalyptus paniculata (Grey Ironbark) along Murray Street & low level accent, grass & groundcovers “to ensure that general safety, sightlines & CPTED principals are maintained.” – meaning all signs & the building will be very visible as if the height of the new buildings is not enough.
I think losing these trees will be a huge loss for the community, for air quality, for beauty of the area & for urban wildlife. Currently most of Marrickville Metro is hidden behind large beautiful, healthy trees. I cannot imagine the area without them. Most of these trees are mature & took decades to grow.
The Metro expansion will also result in a 65-68% increase in traffic from an estimated extra 4 million customers a year. It will destroy our local shopping strips & remove much of the individual kind of shop that make the Inner West unique.
I asked a taxi driver standing outside Metro what he thought, thinking he would be for the expansion as it would bring him more business. He replied, “It will kill the local shops in Marrickville, Enmore & Newtown. I don’t think it will be good for us.”
AMP Capital also want to purchase Smidmore Street from Marrickville Council. I think there is a big chance that Council will sell Smidmore Street to help with their financial situation. In last Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald –
Council sources said a figure of $8 million has been discussed for the purchase of Smidmore Street, along the shopping centre’s southern boundary, but that no formal offer has yet been made. Several councillors told the Herald the council is united in refusing to sell Smidmore Street ”on principle”, but would not comment on whether that position would change if the project gained approval. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/mall-goes-a-street-too-far-opponents-say-20100811-11zqg.html
In return for traffic gridlocked streets, parking problems, much more noise, air pollution, visual pollution & the potential loss of at least 142 beautiful trees, AMP Capital will give us many more shops like we can get at close-by Roselands, Eastgardens or Broadway shopping malls. They are also offering a small library & a community education board.
We already have a number of fabulous & free-to-use libraries courtesy of Marrickville Council & a public education board is nothing to get excited about.
The expansion to double the size of the current Metro makes me wonder where the customers are going to come from. Around 2-3 years ago, all the shops in Metro were required to do a specific renovation as part of sprucing up Metro & their rents were raised. A number of shops were struggling to meet this cost & some moved out to set up shop elsewhere. Since then, there have always been vacant shops in Marrickville Metro.
I am of the belief that AMP Capital would not be investing millions to do the expansion if they weren’t absolutely sure they will make bucket-loads of money.
Right now the area is classified as a village, but if the expansion goes ahead, the Department of Planning may be within their rights to reclassify the area as a ‘Town Centre’ simply because of the size of Marrickville Metro. This will mean that development in the league of Bondi Junction & Hurstville will be allowed.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see the industrial-zoned areas around Metro being rezoned residential. Once that is done, a ‘unit city’ can be built very close to Metro. Then, to cope with the massive increase in traffic, the M6, an arterial road that is planned for Edgeware Road may one day be built. Edgeware Road is already often bumper-to-bumper. The Marrickville Transport Action Group say – Cardigan St, Edgeware Rd, Liberty St & Kingston Rd are key to the F6 plan.
Who knows if my theories have any weight, but it does make more sense as to why such a huge shopping mall is being planned when there are not enough current customers & it constantly has a number of empty shops.
The proposed Metro expansion is going to have a massive impact on Marrickville & surrounding suburbs in terms of traffic & pollution. To my mind, it is not just an issue for residents who live nearby & shop owners, although it is an appalling prospect for them. The expansion is an issue that will affect many of us because:
- it will choke many of the roads that are at capacity now
- it will likely weaken our shopping strips reducing choice & this often negatively affects variety of products & price
- it will reduce competition
- it will bring more 19-metre long semi-trailers to our narrow suburban streets &
- it will take away the community feeling that shopping strips help create, because these are public spaces where we retain all our rights as citizens, whereas shopping malls are private spaces under the control of developers/corporations.
Unless the community come out in great numbers & say they do not want the Metro expansion, it will happen.
If you are against any aspect of the planned expansion, please send in a submission to the Department of Planning by Friday 27th August 2010. Their e-mail is – Plan_comment@planning.nsw.gov.au
It is called Major Project – MP_0191 – 34 Victoria Road Marrickville. If you would like a draft submission please send me an e-mail.