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This was the Development Assessment & Committee Meeting. The following is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

568 Illawarra Road Marrickville – 7 units as affordable housing for 10 years, then will revert back to market value.  Affordable housing gives 20% off market rental rates. This is the third time this DA has been before Council & each time Council staff have recommended that it be refused.  This time Council gave 17 points as to why they recommended refusal. For brevity I have edited the points.

  1. Insufficient information submitted with the development application.
  2. The development is contrary to the requirements, particularly in regards to the floor space ratio.
  3. The development does not satisfy the open space & landscape objectives.
  4. Insufficient information submitted with the application & the required sampling of the site that is required to be carried out.
  5. The architectural form of the proposed development fails to complement the architectural style of the dwelling houses surrounding the site.
  6. Inadequate boundary setbacks are provided.
  7. The development is contrary to the site coverage requirements.
  8. The development is contrary to the privacy controls.
  9. The proposed development does not comply with the waste management provisions, in particular the location of the waste storage areas.
  10. The presentation of the open ground floor car park is visually obtrusive & is considered to compromise the safety & security of tenants.
  11. The architectural design does not address Illawarra Road as required.
  12. The subject site is identified as being flood affected. The development proposes a poor drainage design & as such is contrary to the Stormwater requirements.
  13. The height, bulk, scale & intensity of the development is considered excessive resulting in significant & unacceptable impacts on the streetscape of Wharf Street & Illawarra Road constituting an overdevelopment of the site.
  14. The private open space provided for each dwelling does not comply with the requirements.
  15. The proposed design does not satisfy Context & Setting; Scale; Built Form; Density; Amenity; Safety & Security & Aesthetics. .. the design does not appropriately relate to its context & setting & the new building does not provide adequate security for future occupants or adequate open space.
  16. The proposed development is considered to provide poor amenity for future occupants.
  17. In view of the above & the public submissions received, approval of the application would not be in the public interest.”

I was out of the room for Clr Tsardoulias’s opening speech supporting this DA.  Voting to approve. Clr Thanos: Asked about the acid sulphate in the soil. Staff said this was a “must clause” & Council must assess the soil.  Clr Peters: During the site inspection there was clear instructions for a contamination report. I can’t believe that 2.5 years has passed & still no report. This is a flawed proposal with 15 reasons for non-approval. Clr Tsardoulias’s amendment is generic & misses 15 reasons for refusal.  Voting for refusal.

Clr Phillips: If I were a member of the public in the Gallery I would be wondering why certain Councillors are trying to support this. There are loads of issues, information is missing & the remediation plans have not been submitted. Voting for refusal.

Mayor Byrne: Read from Staff’s report page 169-Conclusion: Point 5 the following – “It is noted that there are fundamental flaws with the proposed development which have not been addressed…. the performance criteria that allows for suitable amenity for residents & building design have not been met…. each unit has poor access to open space in terms of balconies. The provided landscape area adjacent to the northern building elevation at ground level is not conducive to use. The applicant has failed to address the majority of the concerns raised. The application has been the subject of considerable Council time & resources in an attempt to work with the applicant to resolve issues. Unfortunately, this has been unsuccessful, & there are fatal flaws with the proposal.” Voting for refusal.

Trees from exhibition at Customs House

Clr Thanos: Happy to entertain some sort of approval. Not willing to consider this approvable until Council has the information & remediation plan for acid sulphate.  Clr O’Sullivan: The reason I supported it is if we can get it right we can have 7 units for 10 years that is less than market rent. Units now with poor design & badly built go for $500,000. This is the last stab we will have on affordable housing because the new people in power will not follow this for long. The single reason we have pursued this is because it gives an opportunity for people to live in a good area. Voting to approve.

Clr Hanna: Some Councillors are interested to approve it. Instead of $400 it will be $320. If we want to support this DA we will be supporting affordable housing, not for any other reason.  Voting to approve.  Clr Macri: We do want to get it right to get affordable housing. I grew up playing football here & that tin shed has been there a long time. It’s now a new graffiti wall. I understand the process is making some Councillors feel uncomfortable. I’d like to see the applicant bring the reports in.

Clr Kontellis: It’s not about discomfort, it’s about doing things that are right. This is contrary to what we do around this table & to hide behind affordable housing is wrong – we all want affordable housing. We have 15 reasons to refuse this DA.  Clr Phillips: One point in the amendment says the building is acceptable. There are loads of reasons why it is not acceptable. What does this message send to other applicants? With this DA we say it’s affordable housing for 10 years so they don’t have to play by the rules. The rules are there so people have good amenity & proper safety procedures. We are throwing these out because its affordable housing as if people who live in affordable housing don’t need the same standards as everyone else.

Clr Wright: Asked Staff whether the development was complying with affordable housing steps. Staff: No – on the floor/space ratio.

Vote to approve DA: Clrs Tsardoulias, Iskandar, Wright, O’Sullivan, Thanos, Hanna & Macri.  Against: Clr’s Olive, Peters, Kontellis, Phillips & Mayor Byrne. Carried. This DA was approved.

Part 2 of Report from the Gallery will be posted soon.

Beautiful old Fig tree in Marrickville Golf Course

Station Master's house in Sydenham has been left to decay

Re: the Development Application by Railcorp to demolish the Station Master’s house at Sydenham & remove 21 mature trees –

I have been informed that Marrickville Council has extended the period for objections from the community until this Friday 28th January 2011.

I’ve had a look at the property. The house has been left to decay, but it doesn’t look beyond repairing.  I had expected it to look in worse repair.  Many of the trees on the property are very large & there were lots of birds.

Railcorp’s DA says it will cost $450,000 to demolish everything & remediate the soil.  With that kind of money you could renovate & keep a piece of Sydenham’s history & have change left over.  Having looked at the gorgeous & very similar in design, renovated Station Master’s house at Tempe, I think it is imperative that both the Sydenham cottage & the trees are retained.  Please consider sending in a submission.  It can be a simple statement.  We cannot keep losing our historical houses & the trees that surround them at a rate of knots.

I last wrote about this DA here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/railcorp-the-removal-of-21-mature-trees-in-sydenham/

The Station Master's house in Tempe looks very similar in design to the one in Sydenham

Showing some of the trees to be removed at the Station Master's house in Sydenham

I have just been told of a DA submitted by Railcorp to Marrickville Council to demolish the Station Master’s house, remove 21 trees & remediate the land at 117 Railway Road Sydenham.  I cannot see any indication in the papers of what Railcorp intends to use the land for once they have cleared it & done remediation of the soil.

Problem is the removal of a lovely old Station Master’s house which means another loss of the local area’s history as well as the removal of the 21 mature trees that are on the property.

The Development Application can be downloaded here – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/edrawer/Files/959094468/TRIM_TR_REC_1226611.PDF

If you would like to see the property & the trees, Kass Finlay McAuliffe has created a fabulous YouTube video as part of her objection.  The video shows the large amount of birds & other insects, including Monarch butterflies that populate the site.  It’s well worth a look – http://www.youtube.com/user/kassmusic#p/a/u/0/L2FzYu2gcCg

Last year, St Vincent’s de Paul in Lewisham were given permission via a DA to remove a similar amount of trees from the front of their property.  After being told that Long-Nosed Bandicoots lived in this area & with help from WIRES, St Vincent’s de Paul agreed to keep a number of their trees. Perhaps Railcorp can do the same.

Does Railcorp really need to remove all the trees from this property?  How does the removal of so many mature trees on one site fit with Marrickville Council’s Diversity Policy?

The Development Application ID is DA201000599 & the applicant is Rail Corporation Of NSW.

Unfortunately, the deadline for objections is today. A simple submission can be emailed to Marrickville Council at – council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au Thank you.

Community group Metro Watch are having a public meeting –

  • this Thursday 12th August 2010
  • 7pm
  • Herbert Greedy Hall 79 Petersham Road Marrickville.

The plans for the massive expansion of Marrickville Metro are now on public exhibition & will be presented. There will be a range of guest speakers – Marrickville Mayor Sam Iskandar, Federal Greens Candidate for Grayndler Sam Byrne, some Marrickville Councillors, some local business owners & the Metro Watch secretary.

THEN

  • this Saturday 14th August 2010
  • 11.15am
  • Gather at the BBQ spot Enmore Park at the corner of Black Street & Victoria Road Marrickville

After a 15-minute update, the group will walk together 100 metres to Marrickville Metro to attend a community consultation session held by the AMP project team & Elton Consulting.

This is a seriously big Fig with a girth of many metres. It stands near the front entrance of Marrickville Metro on Victoria Road & it is one of more than 100 mature trees that will be removed should the expansion of Marrickville Metro go ahead

Resident action group Metro Watch say they have communicated with over 1,000 local residents.  Almost everyone was under the misconception that Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre was undergoing ’revitalization’ & that revitalization meant a cosmetic face-lift of Marrickville Metro.

AMP Capital is planning everything but a cosmetic facelift.  More than 4 million extra shoppers & a 65-68% increase in traffic is not a cosmetic facelift. Nor is the removal of more than 100 trees, (how much over 100 trees is not known as yet), many of them big, beautiful substantial trees.

The community has this perception because the term ‘revitalization’ is used in all of AMP’s community newsletters.   Oh the power of words.

Please come to both these community meetings. Children are welcome.

The deadline for submissions to the Department of Planning is Friday 27th August 2010.  I will be writing more about this development & will write a draft submission that I can e-mail to you for you to change as you like.

We do not stand a chance against this corporate giant unless the community joins with Marrickville Council, Marrickville Councillors & local shop owners in our shopping strips that are saying a loud “NO!” to this development.  We also need to help the people who live in the 11,430 homes within 1km from Marrickville Metro.  They will be the worst affected, but traffic problems tend to spiral outward, especially now that the new IKEA in Tempe is just around the corner and more massive high-rise housing development is planned.

To read past posts about the proposed development – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/marrickville-metro-expansion-the-trees/

https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/marrickville-metro-expansion-public-meeting/

Prepare for big changes in Marrickville because this is just the start. This photo was taken from a 2nd floor balcony so the size of the building will look bigger when you are standing on the ground.

The Joint Regional Planning Panel meets this Thursday 12th August 2010 at 5.30pm at Marrickville Town Hall to decide on the DA for the old Marrickville RSL site corner of Illawarra Road & Byrnes Street Marrickville. Everyone is welcome.

If you would like to address the Panel, you need contact Ms Carol Pereira-Crouch before 4pm tomorrow Tuesday 10th August 2010 on 938 32105 or

carol.pereira-crouch@planning.nsw.gov.au

The developers of the 5,6 & 9 storey development on the old Marrickville RSL site must be super confident because they are already advertising the units for sale & doing letter box drops.  Does this mean they think the process is a farce?  Imagine just how far we would get if we tried to sell a 2nd storey on top of our house before our DA was approved?

You can view the units for sale by clicking on the following link –

http://www.realestate.com.au/property-apartment-nsw-marrickville-106730992

To read the issues about this development –

September 2009 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/15th-september-09-marrickville-greens-to-hold-public-meeting-re-9-storey-rsl-site-da/

July 2009 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/report-from-the-gallery-–-20th-july-2010-part-2/

June 2009 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/report-from-the-gallery-–-8th-june-2010/

April 2009 – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-place-2021-da-for-old-marrickville-rsl-site-is-back-on-the-agenda/

The Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting & the Service Committee Meeting was held on 13th April.  I stayed only for the first meeting.  Councillor Thanos was absent.  The following is my take on the meeting & all mistake are mine.

1.       Local traffic planning – 2 issues were discussed in detail.  3 residents addressed Council regarding a development affecting Wilford Lane Newtown.   Link Construction Group Pty Ltd are constructing a building at 63 – 71 Enmore Road Newtown. The speakers complained about a heap of problems such as noise, dust, multiple incidents of damage to private property, potholes, rubbish, blocking of access & abuse from builders.

walk way in Tempe Reserve

A privacy wall that the DA said was to remain was knocked down & not replaced. Also contrary to the DA a green space was removed.  3 metres of land that was reclaimed by Marrickville Council was paved over, making it appear to be private rather than Council property.

The developer has been fined 10 times at a total of $30,000 & the residents say that Council could be booking the builders for violations on a daily basis.

Chair Clr Mary O’Sullivan said this was an acute & serious issue & all Councillors mirrored this sentiment.  They will meet asap with residents & bring back the results to the next Council meeting.

In the second issue a resident spoke passionately against allowing a request from the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) to Marrickville Council to give them a substantial parcel of Sydenham Green for The RTA to create another lane on Railway Road Sydenham heading towards the intersection of the Princes Hwy.  The RTA say the extra lane will make it easier for trucks & other vehicles to leave Railway Road & enter the Hwy.  Of course it will, but it will also encourage more trucks to use this route through Marrickville LGA.  The resident who spoke said as far as he was concerned, there was too much traffic & far too many trucks in this area.

The area of land the RTA have their eye on is from the Princes Hwy to the Coptic Church built in 1884.  13 healthy trees on park land would need to be chopped down.  Councillors voted to deny the request from the RTA.

2.         The Metropolitan Strategy Review 2036 Discussion Paper was briefly discussed.  This is a large document, which I have yet to read.

3.         Metropolitan Transport Plan – Most discussion concentrated on the Greenway.  Marrickville Council is concerned that 55% of the Plan’s budget is for road infrastructure.

Just about to burst into flower-Sydenham Green

Council thought it would be better if only 20% of the budget was directed towards roads with the remaining 80% directed to walking, cycling & public transport.

The Greens wanted an amendment that called on the state government to ‘guarantee’ a bike-path in the Greenway corridor.  The plans do not guarantee the bike path, as a lot depends on whether the light rail is 1 or 2 tracks.  Clr Wright did not want to impose conditions that may impact on how light rail works.  After debate that centred on using creative engineering around ‘pinch points’ the motion was amened to ‘consider inclusion’ & this was carried unanimously.

4.       Greenway Steering Committee.  The Mayor & Deputy Mayor will attend as representatives for a period of 2 years.

5.        LGA wide Parking Management Study – The issue was to employ a consultant for $300,000 to do a study on parking across the LGA.  The Greens were against both the study, saying that Council cannot afford $300,000.  They said there are already areas which the council knows needs work done & it would be better to start fixing the problems than paying that money for another study.  Clr Phillips suggested using Section 94 money to fix known problems.  A staff member advised that Council has already collected funds for parking including on-road parking.  As I understood it, the other Councillors although concerned at the amount of money, were interested in learning what the study came up with.

wetlands in Tempe Reserve

The outcome was the Councillors would be briefed on parking matters.  They would look at using Section 94 money as an alternative to a consultancy report & look at previous parking proposals that have been considered. The decision to employ a consultant has been deferred.

My fear is that Council will go they way of Leichhardt Council & bring in metered parking because it is a phenomenal revenue maker & could be attractive to a council which has severe financial problems.

6.         Re-establishing alcohol-free zones – Clr Tsardoulias put forward an amendment to remove Alex Trevallian Plaza (next to Post Office Café on Marrickville Road Marrickville) from the proposed list of alcohol free places because a Thai restaurant which fronts the plaza will have outdoor eating & wants to be BYO.  The General Manager said they would allow the restaurant to serve alcohol, so Councillor Tsardoulias withdrew his motion. The Greens concerned about the associated increase in police powers that result from such measures. Public consultation will be done regarding a number of locations along Marrickville Road shopping strip, side streets, Calvert Street car park, Sydenham Green & other locations in Sydenham.

There ends Report from the Gallery for another week.

The evening opened up with an Extraordinary Council Meeting about our Sister City relationship with the island of Madeira, which was recently struck by flood & landslides killing 42 & injuring 250 people.

Discussion covered recognising the devastating effects of this & other recent natural disasters, Council’s poor financial position, the lack of financial capability to reciprocate to an equal level when representatives from Sister Cities visit Marrickville, the large numbers of Sister Cities we have & whether this should be reduced (imagine, “sorry sister, it’s goodbye”) & developing a policy regarding financial assistance to Sister Cities when Council is having problems financially supporting its own services.

The motion was carried to donate $5,000 from the Sister Cities budget to help with rebuilding the affected area. Mayor Iskandar had the deciding vote.

Then came the Development Assessment Meeting.  One wouldn’t think that DAs are interesting unless they directly concern you, but actually they are.

There were DAs for single block developments, shops & large residential housing.  The gallery was full & some residents waited for 2 hours to speak.  The following is my impressions & thoughts:

People from both sides feel quite passionate & emotional about DAs.  Some were frustrated by the time required for the DA process.

Local residents were concerned about developments they felt would significantly change the streetscape in terms of set-back & visual impact. Height, noise, parking, privacy & loss of light were other issues causing concern.

I have seen these issues raised many times both inside & outside Council meetings.  People who become involved by attending Council meetings, signing petitions or lobbying against certain DAs hold the streetscape of the Inner West in high regard & they want to retain it.  It appears that some people new to the area & developers want to build more modern buildings & this causes a conflict with the other residents.

Given that these developments are being built, I don’t think it will be too many years before the visual outlook of great chunks of Marrickville LGA will be significantly changed.  Unlike Haberfield, which has decreed no modern buildings will be allowed & heritage will be protected at all cost, Marrickville LGA does not seem to have a policy like this.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if a DA ticks all the boxes, it is up to the councillors as to whether it gets approved.  Naturally, the Councillors have differing perceptions of taste & beliefs as to what constitutes appropriate outlook, as well as what should be knocked down.  Many cherished buildings considered heritage by the Marrickville Heritage Society & other authorities have been demolished over the years.

Last night one developer said the plans for a large  residential development were “unashamedly contemporary,” yet the area this development is situated is one of the most historical in the LGA in terms of housing, other buildings, parks, trees & other historical infrastructure. I see some box-like buildings plonked next to softer, filigree terraces, but I belong to Marrickville Historical Society, so of course I prefer the older buildings.

Only last week Paul Keating said on Lateline, “Well, I can’t teach you good taste” when speaking about the 60 storey glass hotel in red planned for a finger pier at Barangaroo. Interesting that I liked much of the proposed development, but not this particular building.

streetscape

I mention the issue of development & taste because our suburbs are changing.  Marrickville LGA is about to embark on major new development & much of it will be high-rise.  A lot will get through because the state government wants us to have housing for something like another 10,000 people & frankly Marrickville Council desperately needs the money which comes from Section 94 contributions (what the developers pay to Council).

The Councillors need our input either directly or via community lobby groups.  Mayor Iskandar said this in both Marrickville Matters & the Inner West Courier recently.  He also said that the changes coming would affect the community for at least the next 25 years.  If we don’t let the Councillors know what we don’t want, then we will have to accept what the developers give us.

Very soon, a DA for a Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore will come before Council.  This is a 130 plus bed establishment with 7 parking spaces, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  Is this of consequence?  Judging by the speakers last night & other recent community action regarding the proposed development on the old Marrickville RSL site, parking is a huge issue in people’s minds.  Council is passing DAs where residents question the parking ratio & sincerely believe parking opportunities will be worse with the new development.

It’s changing times.  Denser living will further impact on parking.  Backpackers often have sufficient funds to buy a car & most residences have at least one car & sometimes more than two.  Council & the government are encouraging public transport use, but living close to a railway station really doesn’t have much of an impact on vehicle ownership yet.  Perhaps later it will when petrol becomes costlier.  For now, there is the problem with a transport system that is already deemed inadequate.  It’s all food for thought.

Moving to trees, a DA at 23 West Street was passed last night.  This site will have 8 double storey modern townhouses built on a block where there are two 9 metre Council protected Canary Island Palm trees & a Fiddle Leafed Fig tree on the boundary of the back property.  Council’s own report stated that Canary Island Palm trees only live for 15-40 years so the development would ‘outlive’ them.  In fact, these trees generally live for 150-160 years, which is an enormous difference.

The Councillors agreed these 2 trees will be relocated to the back of the development, stipulating the root protection zone of the Fig tree will also be protected.  This is a good thing, though I’m sorry we will lose the Palms from the streetscape, which has or is about to lose 31 trees on the opposite side of the street.  Change.

It was good to hear that Palms relocated at Enmore Park for the swimming pool development are doing well.

Another DA passed was 63 Grove Street St Peters which will erect 34 double storey dwellings.  2 mature trees will be removed, yet the landscaping is great.  They intend to plant 10 trees capable of growing to 15 metres, 19 trees reaching 5 metres, 9 trees reaching 7 metres, 10 trees reaching 8 metres & 46 trees reaching 5 metres.  94 trees in total.  They also intend to preserve the current street trees.  I wish all developments planted this percentage of tall growing trees.

One final point of interest is that various sites across Marrickville LGA are considered contaminated, so don’t eat the dirt.  There is some serious toxic stuff around from poor industry practices in the past & dumping.  Like toxins that live on to create problems decades later, we need to think if an upcoming development will also be like that & whether we want to be involved in community consultation to shape our community for the better.

1. Marrickville Councillors will be voting on a DA soon which will see the demolition of 2 houses built in the 1920’s at 34-36 Piggott St Dulwich Hill, the conversion of the original area manor house built in the early 1880’s as well as the loss of 15 mature trees to build a 3 & 4 storeys development overlooking Hoskins Park.  The local community is rallying to prevent this development. They believe the DA has many negative impacts on the community as well as destroying a green corridor & the green outlook of Hoskins Park.  It is DA 201000022 & can be accessed via Council’s web-site.

2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/loved-palm-tree-gets-the-chop/ Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it

What is the purpose of these symbols?

was chopped down.  I note similar strange rune-like markings sprayed on a couple of the Hills Figs in Carrington Road Marrickville South.  Were these put there by Council?  Are Marrickville Council intending to remove these trees?  I seem to remember 1 Fig tree was agreed to be removed for the new development which has recently commenced.

3. I wrote in the post Tempe Wetlands protest & trees at risk in Tempe that I would try to get further information about the mature trees at risk at the State Rail land in Edgar Street Tempe.  Kerry, a local resident kindly left a comment (see comment roll) saying “I believe they (the trees) are under threat by the 27 townhouse development going in on the land next to the railway line.  An underground car park & water tank retention system is to be built along the boundary line with the railway.  At no stage have these trees been mentioned by the DA or State Rail or Marrickville Council’s tree officer.”

4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife.    http://www.smh.com.au/national/central-park-off-broadway–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html

5. A little old as it was published last November.  Hornsby Council intends to plant tree-lined boulevards with a councilor suggesting council create ‘immediate’ boulevards by planting trees which are already 4-5 metres tall.  Wonderful if it happens & maybe cost effective considering the high loss of saplings Hornsby Council also experience. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-boulevardes-plan-for-hornsby/

new street trees - hanging baskets & planter box

6.  City of Sydney Council recently planted numerous young trees along Glebe Point Road & some side streets.  They used a porous hard substance to cover larger than average planting holes.  The new street tree planting resulted in instant & significant greening of this already green street.  Because of their size, I doubt they will be vandalized.  It looks terrific.

7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree.  We should never have this kind of action here. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/83607162.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

8. The Home Owners Association in San Diego California will chop down in excess of 200 mature Eucalypts because 1 fell on a house recently. The residents are campaigning to prevent the removal of the trees saying they are prepared to live with the risk.  You can read the story & watch a video which is an interesting look at their urban environment. http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11985277

9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010.   Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day.  I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned – http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/info/escape

10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/index.htm & http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Search/QuickSearch.aspx

SoT concentrates on trying to save, preserve & protect healthy trees in public spaces, yet sometimes the loss of trees on private property deserves mention. Generally most residents of Marrickville LGA are unaware of the loss of the older, perhaps historic trees unless they are directly affected or when they recognise that ‘something’ in a particular area has changed.  The presence of trees is something we take for granted & it is often only if they all go & the landscape is radically changed that we recognise their loss.

I have decided to document the loss of our big older trees or when a mass of trees are removed regardless of whether they were situated on private property or not.  This post informs of a recent loss & one that is about to occur.

In September 09, 2 heritage listed 77 year old Fig trees, 1 other Fig tree, which were alive & growing in 1943, 1 mature Plane tree & 2 mature Eucalypts were chopped down in Ferncourt Primary School Marrickville South to make way for the building of a school hall as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus program.  The loss of these trees caused much grief to those in the community who know about it.  The community tried to find solutions that would enable all the trees to be retained, but their efforts were unsuccessful.  You can read about these trees & see photos at the following –http://ecopond.blogspot.com/2009/09/trees.html Thanks to Voren a local resident who sent me the link to her blog.

I understand all the trees visible in this photograph are to be removed - still more trees are out of shot

Last Tuesday 2nd February 2010 the Labor & Independent councillors voted to approve a DA for the St Vincent’s de Paul State Office 2C West Street Lewisham.  Many of you will know it as the old Lewisham Hospital site.  It is situated across the road from Petersham Park with its lovely oval, numerous old, very special trees & the Fanny Durak Pool. The DA was seeking to demolish an existing brick & stone fence, remove 32 31 mature trees & construct a new fence, driveway & landscaping.  The trees that are to be removed give the feeling of a tree-lined avenue as they match those on the opposite side of the road in size & were probably planted at around the same time so their loss is going to have major visual impact. 3 Palms will be relocated.

The whole St Vincent’s de Paul site is heritage listed, including the fence.  The DA said:

  • the existing fence does not provide sufficient security for residents of an aged-care facility & a woman’s refuge on site.
  • the fence is also suffering structural problems due to the height of the soil inside the property & the presence of mature trees, both of which have caused the brickwork to move & lean outward in some parts.

row of trees which will be chopped down - I have been told Bandicoots live here

While I agree with both points, after going to the site & having a look, I believe that the removal of the trees is unnecessary unless the aim is to get a more modern, streamlined effect to match the new shiny glass black building.

The fence is bowing outwards.  The ground is built up on the inside of the fence.  This looks to be deliberate & would have been in place for many decades. I wonder why they just cannot remove the old brick fence, built a new, higher one to improve the security & replace any soil dislodged during construction of the new fence.  If they do this, they will be able to retain most if not all of the trees.

This tree will be chopped down - it has a massive trunk

St Vincent’s de Paul intends to replace the 32 trees with a mix of lawn, low scale planting, screen planting & Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo & Summer Red Gums. I think they want to do this to modernise the place & perhaps allow more onsite parking.

The trees to be removed are decades old.  I would guess around 80 years.  Most have massive trunks (2-3 metres) & as such are significant sequesters of CO2.

The front of the Lewisham complex looks a mess at the moment because there is building work happening & the front & side of the property has a cement barrier erected to prevent pedestrians being flattened by any part of the fence if it decides to collapse.  However, when you enter the property, the noise immediately abates because the trees block a lot of the traffic noise.  It is cool, visually pretty & smells nice.  It is a relaxing place despite the construction work.

another very large tree due to be chopped down

Enter past the front buildings & further into the property & you come across one of Sydney’s hidden gems.  There is a contemplation garden complete with life-size religious statues, a small cemetery, old hand-made stone seats tucked into raised garden beds, a variety of mature trees & an old fashioned & very beautiful garden.  Birds, insects & lizards are everywhere.  Further in there is a school with 3 massive trees with huge natural canopies that shade the playground.  There are also many heritage buildings with curved silo-like attachments, a gigantic copper dome & an enormous & exquisitely beautiful sandstone church. The

this beautiful tree is to go as well

complex is dotted with enormous Eucalypts & other trees, all of them mature.

Two families of Bandicoots live on the property.  I was told the Bandicoots live “out front & in the trees along Thomas Street.” Where will these animals go when their homes are removed? The animals can’t just cross the road & take up

3 Kookaburras live in the trees which are to be chopped down.

residence in Petersham Park because animals are territorial & other animals probably won’t allow them to move in even if the conditions are right.

The St Vincent’s de Paul complex is a green oasis that provides significant habitat for wildlife one block from the heavily trafficked Parramatta Road & about 6 kms from Sydney CBD.  It’s not that I think everything should stay the same & there should be no progress, but sometimes progress can ruin something very special.

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