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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.

Just some of the trees at risk of removal if the Marrickville Metro expansion goes ahead. The trees create a lovely ambience around the Metro, collect air pollution from vehicles, bring significant beauty to the area, sequester large amounts of CO2, help to lessen the Heat Island Effect & provide homes & food for urban wildlife. Their loss will be devastating.

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.

More of the trees at risk of removal.

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.

Still more trees at risk of removal

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.”

Marrickville Metro want to buy Smidmore Street. Every bit of green is at risk of removal

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 car park of Marrickville Metro is surrounded by the canopy of the Figs & other trees providing a buffer to surrounding properties & creating an ambience unknown anywhere else in Sydney. They also prevent particulate matter (known to cause lung & heart disease) from the vehicles from dropping onto the street & surrounding properties.

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.

All these trees are at risk of removal as well

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.

http://www.marrickvilletag.org/html/transport_johnsonscreek_history.html

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.

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I was invited by Marrickville Greens to go to watch the magnificent Lemon Scented Gum street tree in Cambridge Street Stanmore being chopped down by Marrickville Council.  For various reasons I declined, but I know I did not want this image imprinted on my memory.  I have come to love this tree & I am distressed about its loss.  To me, it was no ordinary street tree.

Marrickville LGA has some gorgeous trees, mostly in parks, though there are also good ones that are street trees.  However, we have thousands of butchered, stumpy & not good-looking street trees all over the LGA & it is noticeable if you look.

I think many of us have become desensitised to the ugliness of our street trees because their disintegration happens over time & we just get used to seeing them in this poor condition.  Leave the LGA & you immediately notice the differences.

This magnificent street tree is gone

The Lemon Scented Gum in Cambridge Street Stanmore was one of the better-looking street trees in the whole LGA & this is not an exaggeration.  Do I think this because I like Gums?  Yes & no.  I do like Gum trees, but I also like most other trees.  I am an all-round tree lover though I admit to preferring tall stature trees & especially trees which flower & provide food for insects, birds & animals.

I think it is necessary in an urban environment to think about wildlife when choosing trees to plant.  I also think we have a duty to provide food for these creatures who are losing more & more food resources every year.  If you don’t believe me, put out a birdbath in a safe place in your garden & watch how long it takes for birds to arrive.  They are short of water as well.  When we built a fishpond, the rare frogs of the area arrived within 2 days & there wasn’t other ponds around.  Where did they come from, we wondered.  If you plant flowering trees & shrubs that feed birds, they will come in droves & the air will be filled with birdcalls.

So for a tree of this magnitude to be cut down seems ridiculous to me.  The tree provided refuge for both wildlife & humans because it was a flowering native tree & its canopy significantly cooled the air in the street.  This is not a feeling I am used to when I walk the streets of my local area.  Mostly I cannot walk during the day because the streets are so hot with the heat reflected by the road & concrete.  I believe that as temperatures rise due to global warming, the heat island effect is going to get worse & we are going to bake.  City of Sydney Council recognises this & intends to plant 10,000 more trees in the CBD this year to counteract the heat.

I am aware the residents who wanted the tree removed said it was causing cracking to their house & Council felt hamstrung because of the potential of litigation.  However, because we do not have a Significant Tree Register, our public trees are vulnerable.  Cracking to houses can always be repaired & it is something we should expect when we live in 100 year old houses, which are built on clay soils & with poor quality mortar.  In fact, even renovated houses in the Inner West need regular work as they are always deteriorating.  It comes with the territory. That’s why many people prefer to live in modern units or project homes that are built on cement slabs.  As a norm, tree roots are not strong enough to lift a concrete slab.

Ordinary street in Chatswood with multiple large street trees- a very different outlook to our LGA

When we respect trees & fully appreciate their positive impact on our lives &  vital role in our civilization’s existence, if atmospheric levels of CO2 continue to rise as expected, then we will do everything we can to keep our mature trees that sequester large amounts of CO2.

The removal of this tree affects the whole community, not just the residents of Cambridge Street.  First is it one tree, then another tree & so on.  Before we know it, the whole streetscape is changed & not for the better.  It took 40 years for that tree to grow a 2.5 metre girth & it had at least another 60 years of life left in it.  Eucalypts often live 100 years or more.  All it took was 4 ½ hours for it to be gone.

The Marrickville Greens tried to get a stay of execution to try other methods to repair the cracking & fix the problem at ground level. The Labor & Independent Councillors had to power to grant this so that amelioration could be tried to give the tree a chance to be saved.  I would have conceded defeat if all avenues had been tried & agreed the tree needed be removed, but these avenues weren’t given a chance.   I am sure the Greens feel the same as I do.  This tree was also worth a lot of money to the community & especially to Cambridge Street.  Better to sell a house before a tree is cut down than after.

Our tree assets get voted out because of concrete, their particular species, because they are old, because, because, because.  I have not yet seen tree saving strategies voted in during council meetings, only the opposite.  Trees are seen as a nuisance & a liability.  The reality is: not having trees is a liability.

I will work with Labor & the Independents as well as the Greens if they are pro-trees & the greening of Marrickville LGA.  However, since I have started, I have noticed that support for my vision comes from the Greens & not from Labor or the Independents.  To be fair, Labor did reverse their decision over the Mackey Park Figs, but not until after a community protest of 300 people & an even larger petition.

Once again, regarding the Cambridge Street tree, the Greens voted to keep the tree.  Once again, the vote to remove the tree comes from the other counsellors.  Is it a pattern? Saving Our Trees hasn’t been alive long enough to be able to answer this question.

Frankly I was shocked when I read on the Greens website that:  Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos recently emailed Councillors & staff saying: “I’ll grab my chainsaw & meet the staff down there on the appointed day.” I just know he & I are not on the same page when it comes to trees.

Getting back to my intro, I didn’t want to go & watch the ‘Elle McPherson of trees’ be chopped down, but the Marrickville Greens did witness this.  You can read their posts about this tree –http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/risk-averse-council-condemns-stanmore’s-biggest-eucalypt-to-the-chainsaw/ & you can also view 2 photos taken today by the Greens at – http://yfrog.com/37y6 & http://yfrog.com/1ehcezj &

http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/stanmores-largest-gum-tree-turned-into-woodchip/

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