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The September issue of Marrickville Matters, the free newsletter published quarterly by Marrickville Council, has a coupon for 2 free native plants.  The coupon can be redeemed at Marrickville Council Community Nursery.  Opening hours & the address of the nursery are written on the coupon.  Apparently these plants are very popular so don’t wait too long if you want to have more choice from what is available.

4 different views of verge gardens in Chippendale

Last August 2010 I wrote about Michael Mobbs, an Environment Architect well known for his sustainable house at Chippendale. He encouraged his neighbours to transform the verges outside their houses into sustainable gardens in at least 4 Chippendale streets.  This is quite an achievement & has been very successful.

The bustling verges are immediately noticeable when you drive off Cleveland Street into the streets that are part of this project.  The verges make these inner city streets look peaceful & it’s far nicer than looking at concrete or strips of lawn.

City of Sydney Council has come on board by openly supporting the project, supplying funds & signage, removing concrete & allowing some of Peace Park to be used. They may have even supplied the compost bins located on street corners & in the small park.  Fruit trees have been espaliered along one side of Peace Park creating an eatable fence. It looks great & allows 4 fruit trees to grow without taking valuable space from the park.

There are vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, bay trees, wild raspberry, daisies, Grevilleas, succulents, native grasses & many other plants.  There may even be potatoes growing under a couple of car tyres.  Some of the plants are labeled with home-made signs making the walk just a little more interesting for people like me who can’t identify every plant they see.

Signs like this one are all along the streets involved in the verge gardening in Chippendale

I spoke to a couple of people who noticed I was taking photos & they were very proud of what has been achieved. Most of the small front gardens were also well looked after & many cuttings have migrated to the verge. The sheer variety of plants makes it look interesting.  The street trees that were once encased in concrete are now sitting in the middle of well-watered composted gardens & would be wondering at their luck.

According to the signs, you can, “Pick any fruit, berry or leaf that you want to eat.   These plants provided by local residents for anyone. We need to grow food where we live & work.” How lovely to see such generosity. Anyone who has grown vegetables & fruit will know that unless you bottle everything, there is generally more than you can eat when a crop ripens so sharing makes sense.

Using the verges to grow vegetables, fruit & other plants has many benefits.

  • Removing concrete allows stormwater to go into the ground & this serves to keep your foundations more stable & stop movement & cracking walls. It also stops pollution entering stormwater drains.
  • The immediate environment gets greener & this has proven to make people feel happier.
  • Producing food cuts down grocery bills & gives people a huge sense of satisfaction.
  • It also teaches children that vegetables don’t come out of clear plastic bags & that they need to take care of the earth & the environment.  Most kids like gardening if they don’t have to work too hard or for too long.
  • Add the concept of sharing to everyone like this community has done would have an accumulative benefit that spreads outwards into the greater society.
  • Projects like this one bring people out of their homes & allow them to get to know each other in a non-threatening way.  A close community is a safer community.
  • As the soil gets richer & the plants start to grow & produce people would feel as though they are a part of something that improves the environment & helps each other.
  • Verge gardening encourages innovative thinking in that there isn’t much land to use so people have to think of ways to maximize the space.
  • It also beautifies & cools the area & creates community pride.

Wild raspberries are growing over this arch in the Chippendale verge gardenss

A few months ago, the then Mayor Sam Iskandar wrote in the Inner West Courier that he hoped many people would start verge gardens in Marrickville LGA.  He said Council would help them by removing concrete in suitable places if they applied.  We have a new Mayor now, but I’m confident that Fiona Byrne who is a member of Marrickville Greens also encourages verge gardens.

The September 2010 Eco Edition of Marrickville Matters said Council was starting up Groundwork, a grassroots sustainability project where people will be taught various gardening techniques & “designing, installing & maintaining gardens – especially non-traditional ones like on verges & roofs.” This would certainly be something good to be involved with.

If you look there are many, many verges around Marrickville LGA where verge gardens would be suitable.  From experience, you only need to start doing it to garner the interest of your neighbours & it is nice to have that bit of extra land to play with.  If we all did it, Marrickville Council could save up to $2 million a year in verge mowing costs. That money could be used for other things such as street tree planting, which is another way we can benefit.

I last wrote about Michael here –

Fruit trees at the edge of Peace Park Chippendale. This can be done in most places & allows fruit trees to grow without taking up much space. Most fruit trees do well in pots so long as they don't dry out so this could be done in a courtyard or on a balcony or roof space


This was the Council Meeting.  Absent: Clr Peters.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  So many interesting & important topics were discussed last night & to do them justice, I will post in 2 sections.

Marrickville Metro – Clr Byrne put up a motion for Council to leaflet all homes within 800 metres of Marrickville Metro to inform them of Council’s opposition to the expansion & why.  Clrs Hanna & Macri left due to pecuniary interest as they are both shop owners.

'No Metro Expansion' signs are all along the Marrickville Road shopping strip

2 residents from Metro Watch spoke for the motion saying they thought Council should letterbox the greater community or at least 1km radius of Marrickville Metro. They said AMP Capital have presented their side to the community & were misrepresenting the reality of the expansion. People need to know the impact of the Metro expansion on heritage, ecological & environmental aspects. They said AMP Capital is playing with words in their advertising – ‘upgrade,’ ‘revitalization’ when in fact it is a massive redevelopment.  AMP Capital use words like ‘could,’ instead of ‘will, ‘upgrade roads,’ instead of ‘remove on-street parking.’ There was also concern that shops keepers within Metro are coerced to display pro Metro development material.

Clr Byrne said her motion should be changed to 1km radius from Metro & that Council’s leaflet should be based on Council’s submission, which included traffic, heritage, trees, size, height & scale. She said she was concerned that people are unaware of Marrickville Council’s position about the Metro expansion.  She also said Council had written to the Planning Minister requesting that the DA approval process be returned to Marrickville Council.

Clr Thanos said he has a big regret that legislation surrounding pecuniary interests prevents councilors from representing the community. He did not leave with Clrs Hanna & Macri.  He said it was a “disgrace” that AMP Capital have been allowed to apply saying that 4 years ago the NSW state government said the land surrounding Marrickville Metro was to remain Category A Industrial to support jobs close to the city, “except Marrickville Metro” owners can apply for rezoning. He said he found this exception disgraceful as this allowed a billion dollar corporation to have a significant financial advantage for the future & penalized every other business owner in the area. He said Carmel Tebbutt must apply pressure to prevent AMP Capital getting such an advantage.  He also said Marrickville Metro shouldn’t have been there in the first place, that the expansion will destroy livability around the area & destroy shopping areas who will have a 30-40% decrease in business. He suggested Council’s opposition to Metro expansion be put in Marrickville Matters. He mentioned AMP Capital’s donations to the Labor Party, which stopped 2 years ago.

Clr Olive said it was important for Council to keep up the fight for our LEP, for residents & for businesses. He said Part 3A was meant to be for ‘state significant development,’ but couldn’t see how Marrickville Metro fitted this criteria. He supported inclusion in Marrickville Matters. Clr Kontellis said she remained cynical because it is a systemic issue that moves power of local decisions to a government who is often tied for a whole range of issues, including financial support.

Just some of the trees that surround Marrickville Metro

Clr Phillips also supported inclusion in Marrickville Matters & spoke in detail about AMP Capital’s selective language with their advertising. He said he was worried residents are being misinformed so it is important they know Council’s opinion.  He said AMP Capital’s advertising shows bikes, no cars, no struggling shop-keepers, no clogged streets, no loss of residential parking & nothing about the 142 trees that will be removed.  He said even the anarchists are against Metro expansion with local graffiti saying, “Vote. Shop. Vote. Die. No Metro Expansion.” Along with the anarchists, the shop-keepers, the residents, the councilors & the Council staff don’t want the Marrickville Metro expansion.  He said Carmel Tebbutt needs to speak louder against the development & said literature shows AMP Capital has donated $256,000 to the Labor Party.

Clr O’Sullivan supported both the motion & the amendment & said the Labor Councillors had already leafleted around the streets surrounding Metro & that the leaflets were paid for with their own money.  She suggested that St Peters be included in the mail-drop. She said Marrickville Council’s submission was a very important tool of information as it succinctly summarizes the case against the Marrickville Metro expansion & asked whether some of the information contained in the Chamber of Commerce & Traffic Reports be available for the community. She said Council needed a non-partisan leaflet & that she was concerned that many people were ambivalent about Marrickville shops believing Marrickville Metro was already stopping them from working. She spoke about the severe impact on boutique shops along Enmore Road & lower King Street citing the destruction of shopping along Glebe Point Road as an example.

Mayor Iskandar said Council & Councillors have always been against the Metro expansion & have always supported both residents & shop owners regarding this.  Clr Byrne finished off saying there was still a threat of compulsory acquisition where the NSW state government can give Smidmore Street to AMP Capital.  Carried unanimously.

I will write about the remainder of the Meeting in my next post.

Still more trees at risk of removal

1.        Environmental groups plan to protest to stop National Parks in NSW being developed for tourism by private development consortiums TOMORROW 2nd June 2010 outside Parliament House, Macquarie Street Sydney at 12 noon . The web-site of the Colong Foundation goes into the issue of development of National Parks in detail.

2.        East Sydney residents are protesting against the RTAs plans to drop the creation of a garden at the corner of Bourke & Stanley streets around the Eastern Distributor chimneystack & instead, rezone the land for residential units.

3.        The Sydney Botanical Gardens Trust have been given the go-ahead from the Federal Environment Department to use noise dispersal & water spraying to remove the grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species, from the Gardens.  Respected conservation groups were against the proposal to remove the bats from the gardens.  For background see’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

4.         Vandals destroyed more than 40 mature trees in Patterson Lakes & Moorabbin in May 2010.  The trees were planted to replace other trees vandalized 18 months previously.

5.        I’ve previously posted about the battle by the community who are against a DA for a new Woolworths supermarket at Newport. To date Pittwater Council has received 1,353 submissions from the community, most against the DA.  The community fears that local shopping strips will be lost when the Woolworths giant moves in. There is a similar concern with the proposed Marrickville Metro development.

6.        More than 100 people attended a protest at the ADI site mid May 2010 including State Opposition Environment Spokeswoman Catherine Cusack, Liberal candidate for Londonderry Bart Bassett, Penrith Mayor Kevin Crameri, Councillor Ross Fowler & a representative of Lindsay Federal Labor MP David Bradbury. The community is trying to save 100 hectares of critically endangered Cumberland Plains woodland.  Interestingly, the news headline is – ‘There is still time to put things right.’

Pansies & Marigolds in an island bed on Botany Road - far better than cement

The 1535 hectare site is to be developed by Delfin Lend Lease to create a new suburb – Jordan Springs.  It is one of the few green belts left in Western Sydney & is home to 110 bird species, 10 reptiles, 9 mammals, 8 frog species, 3 of them endangered & many plant species, including 4 rare ones.

I found an article from the Green Left written in 1996 where they say residents have been fighting to protect this land for the past 6 years.  This means the community has been fighting for 20 years to save this green corridor.  This is an interesting article as it provides a background history.

The ADI Residents Action Group website also provides a great synopsis of what is going to happen & why the ADI site is important to preserve.

7.        Environmental protestors & Aboriginal traditional owners of the land continue to fight to prevent logging of the Mumbulla State Forest in South East NSW.

It is the last remaining habitat for around 50 Koalas. This may not seem many Koalas to require the stopping of logging a forest, but at The Australian Koala Foundation website, they say, “there are less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.”  This certainly makes 50 Koalas extremely significant.  Personally, I think every Koala is significant, but we are talking about big money to be made here versus the habitat & survival of an animal. This is always a problem because the animals generally lose. That the Koala is listed as vulnerable in NSW is supremely important.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is calling for urgent action to stop logging & save the Mumbulla State Forest & have outlined ways in which the community can become involved.

Last Friday 28th May 2010 a coalition of conservationists, including Chipstop & the Nature Conservation Council of NSW have called for the Federal Government to step in & order that the logging be stopped.  Intensive wood-chipping of Mumbulla State Forest has taken place this week.  Interestingly, due to countries buying less of our woodchip at the moment, there is some concern that they won’t even be able to sell the woodchips they have made from the torn down forest. The Tasmanian timber company Gunns recently posted a 98% drop in its ½ yearly profit, partly due to a drop in woodchip sales.

8.         Landcare is collecting old mobile phones to help their aim of planting 30,000 trees along the Murray River, at the Mallee in WA & in the Daintree Forest in Far North QLD.  90% of each mobile phone is recyclable so giving your old mobile to collection points stops them landing up in landfill where they don’t degrade.  Collection points are Australia-wide & to find a collection point near you –

9.        Great news in that the Federal Government contributed to the purchase of a 14,000 hectare property called Bowra Station located in western QLD.  The property, purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is home to 200 species of birds. Birdwatchers will be able to go there.

10.        More great news as the NSW Labor government has decided to pay logging industry $97 million  & in turn, they are to stop logging the River Red Gums by the end of June 2010.  A National Park in the Millewa group of forests will be established in July 2010 & will be jointly managed with the Yorta Yorta people.

11.        I found the Environmental Volunteers Newsletter on Marrickville Council’s web-site.  It’s a great newsletter with information about current activities & contact details of all the environmental groups working in the LGA.

As of last weekend the historic Fig tree at the IKEA development Tempe was still standing. Its shape has changed so I think it has been pruned.

In the May 2010 edition of Marrickville Matters magazine, Mayor Iskandar said, “I urge Marrickville residents to find that piece of land that is not being used & come to us for help to establish their own community garden.” Marrickville Councils Community Sustainability Co-ordinator can be contacted on 9335-2222. May’s magazine has a environmental feel with many articles focusing on the environment across the LGA. Council also says Mackey Park in Marrickville South will be carbon-neutral with all power needs being offset by the use of photovoltaic cells which generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.  This is really good.

12.        Go easy on the mince & bacon rashers if you feed Kookaburras because a Kookaburra was found in a Mosman Park being chased by dogs because he was too fat to fly.  He is currently in rehab at Taronga Zoo Sydney & on a diet, poor birdie.

Eastwood Plaza-I think this is Wisteria. It is very beautiful & very welcome on a hot day

I’m a bit late with this, but I have just read Marrickville Matters.  I always like this magazine.  They have a nice article about trees on page 5.

For those of you who don’t know, Marrickville Council has launched My Place 2021 & they are asking the community to have a say about the new Community Strategic Plan. The plan covers many areas including environmental & development issues.   It hasn’t closed for comments & I’m not sure when this will happen.  Don’t let this opportunity to have your say regarding how you think Marrickville LGA should be over the next 10 years.  There have been a few comments, but not such that I would call great community involvement.  You can comment anonymously if you like.   I’ve yet to add my 2 cents worth.

The DA for the old Marrickville RSL site corner of Illawarra Road & Byrne Street is back like the gift from our Auntie that we don’t like.  According to people I have spoken with, this newer version just brims with problems, including 5 areas of non-compliance. Frankly, the community are angry that their concerns have not been taken notice of by the developer & freaked out that it will be approved by the JRPP when it goes before them.

It’s all a matter of personal taste, but having looked at the plans, I think the building is ugly & without doubt, totally out of character for the area.  It’s like the developers don‘t take the community seriously.  “You are going to get modern so live with it!”

It looks like something from Pyrmont & despite this being an issue last time, there is NO minimal GREEN SPACE.

Are the developers thinking that this will be start-up housing before people move onto better accommodation?  If so, then in my mind, they are creating a future ghetto for Marrickville.  The developer says this development fits into Council’s future vision for Marrickville.  This belief is another reason why it is important to leave your opinion on My Space 2021.  Both the Councillors & Council staff need our input when designing our future.

The old Marrickville RSL site is the building in the centre of this photo (many of us will miss the tasteful poster). The building on the left is the only 4 storey building on Illawarra Rd, so at 9 storeys, the new development will be more than double in height

There will be 3 buildings at 6, 7 & 9 storeys meaning it will tower over the neighbourhood & block city views from Schwebel Street.  It will also bounce train noise from 3 rail lines back to Schwebel Street & the housing on the hill.  The people who live here say it is already very noisy, especially during the night.  The goods line is about to commence operating 24 hours a day.

The plans intend 17 studio units (I would have thought this type of housing wouldn’t be allowed anymore), 73 one bedroom units & 90 two bedroom units, a total 180 units.   The previous plans were for 128 units.  The community thought this was too big so they have returned with a plan for 180 units.

It has parking for 171 vehicles so they expect owners will not have cars.  There is 663 sq metres of retail floor space, enough for a supermarket, so I wonder where the shoppers are going to park.

It appears they have removed the RSL from the plan because of concern having shoppers & kids able to see drinking & gambling from the shops & added another 3 metres to the overall size.

There is a petition going around with hundreds of signatures & I urge you to sign it.  Once I know where it will be I will post the locations and date/times.  If you would like a draft submission, you can send me an e-mail & I will send you the draft which was sent to me.

You can download a copy of the DA at Marrickville Council’s website – It is 12 down in the list for 359 Illawarra Road Marrickville.  You can also view in hard copy at Council’s Citizens Service Centre during business hours.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 15th April 2010.

You will need to quote DA201000115, your reasons for objecting & provide your name & address (preferably your email address) & a contact phone number.

I sincerely hope that many people take the trouble to send in a submission.  This development is regarded by many as the test run.  If it gets through, then it signals what is okay for Marrickville LGA & we will get a lot more developments of this kind.  It won’t take long before our Inner West area is changed for the negative with ugly high-rise & masses of traffic congestion.

Everyone I have spoken with acknowledges development & housing is needed.  They just want it to blend into the neighbourhood, be greener in outlook, creative & not create towers & canyons that they feel will ruin the area.  I agree.

While I was writing this I watched the news which was outlining the proposed massive increase in population in NSW.  Isn’t it interesting how this topic has become accepted in our language in just a few months.  Everything else has followed, including the pushing of high-rise throughout Sydney’s suburbs.  From an idea, it’s become a ‘must.’

Jacaranda tree in flower

Last week the Cumberland Courier reported that a Pymble solicitor who illegally removed a Jacaranda tree from his property was fined a total of $18,075 after being taken to court by Ku-ring-gai Council.  This action by Ku-ring-gai Council shows commitment to taking action to protect trees in an area renown for its significant green canopy & many large, tall trees.

The level of punishment ordered by the court will send a strong signal to those who are prepared to act against the community’s expectations that trees be protected. I expect the people of Ku-ring-gai Council LGA will be extremely reticent to chop down trees without council permission from now on. You can read the article by clicking on the following link –

In the Dorset resort of Poole in the UK a row of mature Monterey pines, Cedars & Oaks protected by Tree Preservation Orders have been killed off by residents using hatchets, handsaws, drain cleaner & rock salt all for the sake of a sea view.  This news has traveled the internet like a virus which has surprised me.  They call it ‘tree-mugging.’  Council intends to deliver hefty fines (20,000 pounds) & possibly gaol time if they catch the perpetrators.  They must not have heard of the councils in Australia who erect large billboards saying “this billboard has been put here because of tree vandalism & will remain until the replacement tree has fully matured.”  I know that I would rather see a view through a leafy canopy than look at a billboard.

Down to the nearest growth point

The Cumberland Courier ran an article about another group of residents who complained about the street tree pruning by Energy Australia in Kens Road, Frenches Forest.  The residents say the energy company has left the street trees ugly & looking like telegraph poles. To read this article, click on the link just above this paragraph.

The council of the city of Milpitas USA took a creative approach to increasing their tree canopy.  Residents came home to find a letter speared into their front lawn with wire informing them that a tree was to be planted by the council in their front garden.  In one street, about 3/4s of the homes were targeted.  If residents didn’t want a tree planted, they were required to send a written appeal within 14 days.

Can you imagine the uproar if our Marrickville Council tried this?  Maybe a modified approach of offering free trees to residents to plant in their gardens would be successful.  It would have to be part of a concentrated campaign to green the LGA because council were offering a free plant from the Addison Road nursery late 09 to anyone who presented a coupon available in the free newspaper Marrickville Matters.  It would be interesting to know how many residents took up this offer.

Peter Spenser of Shannon’s Flat NSW has come down from his tower & stopped his hunger strike after 52 days protesting the State Government’s refusal to allow him to clear his land of trees.  He wants a Royal Commission, compensation & “a Chardonnay.”

Richard Pennicuik who I have posted about on 10th December 09 & 5th January 10 is still sitting in the street tree outside his home in Perth suburb of Thornlie. The City of Gosnell Council must be pulling their hair out by now.  What to do?  Keep the healthy street trees in this street or continue to suffer the now world-wide bad publicity?

Old Palms in Marrickville. Unfortunately 11 palms on the opposite side of the street were chopped down in 2009 because of existing power lines - the residents were very upset & the street doesn't look nearly as good as it did before

Finally, a study in Landscape & Urban Planning by Geoffrey Donavan of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that if a house in East Portland had street trees & tree canopy close by, the house sold for US$8,870 more & it sold faster. He said his research had some public policy implications in that, “Calculating the increased property tax revenue to the city & comparing it to the expense the city bears maintaining street trees, the authors estimate street trees have a benefit to cost ratio of 2 to 1. In Portland, the benefits of street trees significantly outweigh their maintenance costs.”

I did a google search & found a house for sale in East Portland – 3 beds, 1 bath, 475 sq metre with multiple tall trees at US$234,000. Can you believe these prices!

This is part of a current world trend that recognizes that good street trees increase property values.  Interesting if you consider the impact of severe pruning by energy companies.



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