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We had a look at Campbell & Euston Roads around Sydney Park yesterday. Even though I expected this having seen the beginning of the demolition, actually looking at the carnage was difficult. I cannot believe the size of the spaghetti junction (officially known as the St Peters Interchange). It is mammoth.
I found it sad to look at mounds of earth where once were people’s homes & where a significant band of very tall trees once stood.
I am really interested to see if the artist’s impression of the green & leafy St Peters Interchange will actually look like it is depicted 10-years post completion. In the image trees soar above the elevated roadway. It looks almost utopian.
The Sydney Park side of Campbell Street has yet to undergo tree clearing. To see all those beautiful mature trees that will be chopped down & mulched is sobering. I hope we do not end up with yet another main road devoid of street trees.
The Euston Road side of Sydney Park is a mass of dirt. What was once thick trees in the park is now waiting to become bitumen. I don’t know whether this was true for all hours of the day, but whenever I have gone there, this road has always been sleepy. Yes, there was traffic, but not much of it. That will change once it becomes part of the motorway, but I do wonder where the traffic will go once it gets here.
While we were looking through the cyclone fencing at the old Dial a Dump site, a security man drove up & parked a couple of metres from where we were standing & watched us. I found this action surprising as we were on a public road outside a gate in broad daylight, dressed in normal clothes, making no movement to enter the property & carrying nothing more than a camera. He was parked further down Campbell Street, but chose to come real close. It was somewhat threatening.
Lastly, the Stop WestConnex community must be feeling vindicated when the news this week released that the $16.8 billion price tag for WestConnex motorway is projected to blossom to almost $29 billion more than expected, at least this is what analysis by the City of Sydney Council suggests.
“The analysis, which is disputed by the state government, argues WestConnex and its connecting roads combined will cost more than $45 billion, after the extra roads are added to the project’s $16.8 billion public price tag.”
Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said, “Just one exit from WestConnex in St Peters, for example, will require more than $1 billion of publicly funded road upgrades to manage the extra 30,000 cars that will pour into the area daily.” See- http://bit.ly/2of6rjw
Every entrance & exit from WestConnex will require road work.
I read an interesting article in The Guardian yesterday titled, ‘The car is ingrained into people here’: West Midlands faces air pollution crisis.’ See – http://bit.ly/2oY2Fv7
The West Midlands is a region in England identified as an area of high air pollution air due to motorways & other high traffic roads. The United Kingdom has ten pollution hotspots & five of them are within the West Midlands region.
“The government’s own figures show air pollution [in this area] is responsible for almost 3,000 deaths a year ……”
This grabbed my attention. 3,000 deaths a year from something preventable is astounding. What a powerful advertisement for public transport!
In June 2010, I posted about research on how living within a 500-metre radius of a major thoroughfare was likely to cause major health issues & early death. See – http://bit.ly/1MKStR8 I found it interesting to see that the distance from a main road in this UK study had dropped to only 150-metres. In reality the situation would be much worse had they included the other 350-metres.
The Guardian article said thousands of British children are being exposed to illegal levels of air pollution due to schools & nurseries located within this 150-metre zone. The article also said that none of the staff or parents of the ten worst affected nurseries in Birmingham were aware that this was a significant health issue for the children & employees.
Looking further, a whopping 2,091 places of learning for children from preschool to further education centres across England & Wales are within 150-metres of a high-traffic high-pollution road. This is not a great start in life for these children.
Birmingham Council said it “was a challenge to change people’s attitudes to driving in a city that “grew up on the car industry”. According to the council’s own figures 900 people die from poor air quality in the city each year, compared to 30 from road accidents.”
Birmingham Council is improving the cycle routes saying, “there are 200,000 journeys of under a mile in this city each day – it is about removing some of those trips.” Inner West & City of Sydney Councils are doing similar with cycleways being added to allow people to ride safely on the street.
This is a great start, but the WestConnex Motorway cleaving its way through our municipality is of great concern for the future health of our community. We are already burdened with a large number of high traffic roads through high density housing.
That the WestConnex Authority plans to install unfiltered stacks to release the air pollution from the tunnels has always concerned me. I don’t know how much it would cost to have the air filtered to trap particulate matter & other air pollutants, but I do know that the future health costs of the community around these unfiltered stacks will be considerable. Unless we go down in vast numbers, the health issues will be ignored & subsumed into the usual statistics. Personally, I think the government is playing risk games with the future health of the community.
Also interesting is the image in the article of the spaghetti junction near Birmingham. It reminded me of the spin we are being given about our own impeding spaghetti junction at the massive Dial a Dump site at St Peters.
The WestConnex Authority says the area underneath the St Peters Interchange will become a tree-filled park with cycleways & walking paths. It will be presented to the community as new green space in place of the large track of land & hundreds of mature trees taken from Sydney Park recently to widen the road for WestConnex Motorway.
This is an incredibly poor exchange – take from a beautiful & very much loved park & give back a spaghetti junction with hundreds of thousands of vehicles traveling above & spewing their pollution down on the new green space.
For the life of me I cannot imagine wanting to spend free time under a motorway with particulate matter raining down on me no matter how attractive it looks. However, what cannot be seen will likely entice some people to think it is nice & safe to play there & I bet barbeques will be added to lure people in.
To cope with a climate change future & to cope with the air pollution from increased traffic in our densely built municipality, we need more trees. We need trees & shrubs in gardens & more street trees. The street trees species need to be able to reach a height above 5-metres & have broader canopies. Big trees need to be planted in spaces where Energy Australia has no excuse to start pruning them because we can see that their pruning has reduced so many of our street trees into mangled messes or to a shadow of their former selves.
If we do not make a significant change in the streetscapes & gardens of our municipality, we will pay the price of increasing poor health in our children & ourselves & perhaps an early death.
We also need to ditch the car & walk, cycle & take more public transport whenever we can. It will take a shift in our thinking & motivation, but we can do it. I think one day we will be forced to.
We cycled up New Canterbury Road Dulwich Hill last week & were surprised at the large developments happening there. Our area is changing fast.
One of the high-rise blocks has four Brushbox trees planted out front, though one is already dead. Street trees of this kind will enhance the streetscape and keep the footpath area cool so I am glad they were planted.
The other high-rise building has no street trees, just a long expanse of brand new concrete.
If this is going to be the future look for New Canterbury Road, then I think it is a missed opportunity. Inner West Council needs to insist that developers include a decent number of street trees as part of the development & dare I say, verge gardens. There certainly is room enough for them.
When NSW Transport built the light rail stations, they did not stop at station infrastructure. They also planted trees & other plants extensively both inside & around the light rail stations & made these places quite attractive. It is this that I would like to see developers do when they build a new building for the area – to look at the streetscape surrounding & especially in front of their development. What they don’t spend in concrete, they can spend on street trees & plants. I learnt from listening to the architect for The Revolution in Marrickville that if something “green” is not mandatory, then they don’t bother to include it in the development.
More & more around Sydney I am noticing busy roads including verge gardens & it all works well. With climate change starting to really make its impact & with three heatwaves already this year, development needs to change into something that assists the community. Concrete does not cut it anymore. We know too much about how great expanses of concrete is bad for us & exacerbates heat.
I also think Council should make it mandatory to have street side building awnings to be of the kind that has cutouts to allow the canopy of a street tree to grow & gain height as is the norm all along the Princes Highway in North Sydney. They have tall Brushbox trees growing along their business/shopping strip & all the trees have space for their canopy to grow. It looks good & not only that, it is sensible. I’ve also seen this in Waterloo. Why can we not have this in our area?
Around 5-6 years ago, Marrickville Council planted some red flowering gums along the verge on Livingstone Road near & in front of Marrickville Park. At the time, I was very surprised as I think Council rarely plants flowering gums. Imagine if the streets were full of flowering gums instead of those awful weed trees Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii), with their hundreds of thousands of seeds per tree. Flowering gums come in orange, hot pink, soft pink & red flowers & are food producing for nectar-eating wildlife. They are a short stature tree & perfect for under powerlines.
Unfortunately, Council was ripped off as these trees were the ones that only grow to 1 – 1.5 metres & over a very long time. I do remember there was talk about removing them in one council meeting, but that did not go any further.
Every year these trees would burst into flower & look terrific. Every time I passed I looked for them to assess their growth.
Last year Council planted six Queensland Brushbox trees outside the tennis courts on Livingstone Road in-between the flowering gums. I thought this was wonderful. Brushbox trees grow tall, look lovely & have a great canopy. This is the side of the road without powerlines so they could grow & eventually could create a visual link to the mature Brushbox trees in Marrickvile Park.
Unfortunately, only three of the newly planted Brushbox trees survived. It may have been the extraordinary heat over the summer. Who knows.
A few weeks ago I saw that the biggest red flowering gum, a quite substantial shrub really, had been vandalised. Someone had twisted & ripped off all but one branch. It must have taken them a great deal of strength & energy to do this because the branches were quite thick. Yet another public tree lost to an antisocial vandal who is against the public interest.
If I feel frustrated at the amount of tree vandalism that happens in the former Marrickville municipality, I think Council must be either pulling their hair out or numb with fatigue witnessing the destructive things the happen in public spaces.
There are some in our community who go out of their way to destroy any beauty in public spaces. They would not pick up rubbish or pull weeds out from the verge or footpath as “this is council’s job,” but they think they have a right to vandalise or destroy a street tree because it is in front of their house or planted in a place they think a tree should not be. I have heard people express this sentiment a lot & I’ve never understood the contradictory personal ideology that creates it.
I scoffed when I read today, the following statement in a 2015 article in The Conversation about tree vandalism (http://bit.ly/2n5Ixq7) – “Larger councils with 50-100,000 trees have somewhere between five and 10 trees killed each year.”
At last count in 2012 the former Marrickville municipality had 22,608 street trees & I doubt this number has changed much. I can say with complete confidence that at least 10 street trees are vandalised & killed each year just in the suburb of Marrickville, not the whole former Marrickville Council municipality.
Everyone must have read the Chinese proverb – “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
It takes at least a decade for most newly planted trees to start providing any real benefits in terms of shade, carbon sequestration, pollution uptake & oxygen output. The twenty years is needed to allow the tree time to grow into a decent size.
Anyway, Council has removed the three dead trees & the vandalised gum. When looking at my photos tonight I realised that I had a photo of another flowering gum in this particular block & that too has been removed. Maybe it was also vandalised. So that is five dead or vandalised trees in what is the space of 40-metres. Not bad hey?
I wrote a long list of reasons why I thought people vandalised trees here – http://bit.ly/2mCPnY8
Last post I said I would post some photos of the landscaping work being done at the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro.
I love that infrastructure was kept away from the magnificent heritage fig tree planted around 1860. It is an extremely important tree for Marrickville & for Sydney.
I also love that the bench seats do not include a bar to prevent people from lying down. I loathe defensive architecture & the negative message it sends.
Facing Mill house, on the right there is now a lovely small school vegetable garden for local St Pius’ Catholic Primary School & also what appears to be an outdoor classroom area. From memory this area contained a few trees, so to me it looks entirely different. However, it is a nice & useful green space.
I do like that extensive verge gardens have been created down Victoria Street & more gardens behind the temporary fence.
Metro has obviously tried. It is just a pity that the main entrance area is so visually harsh & is also a heat sink. I think they may come to regret this in the years to come.
The dog tie-up area in this location is connecting all dogs to the one pole & although water bowls have been kindly provided, I think the dogs will bake if left here for more than the shortest time. I also think there is a high risk they will get tangled up with each other, which may cause conflict with some dogs who feel anxious or who have a need for personal space.
It is interesting to notice how the community feel a sense of ownership of what is essentially private property. My guess is Metro want the community to feel connected to this shopping centre, which is why they have the community library. Something else that is important is that Metro is a place visited weekly by a large chunk of the community, so how it looks has an impact on how we feel & for many, whether we return or not.
There is the well-known research that found that spending increased by a whopping 11% in leafy shopping strips, so it behoves shop keepers & shopping malls to retain trees & lobby for more trees & greenery outside their shops & in public spaces within the shopping strip. People like trees & tend to linger in green spaces. If they linger, they tend to spend more.
The area outside the main entrance has been the focus of much conversation on Facebook & many people have initiated conversation with me wanting to talk about what has been done here. No-one mentioned the school garden, the chess area, the verge gardens or the tree removal, so I was surprised to see all the other work. Unfortunately, I do not know how many mature trees were removed. What people talked to me about concerned the entrance area & their emotions were strongly on the negative side.
Having looked at the work I think Metro did not succeed with the front entrance, but have done well in the other sections. For me I remember when Metro wanted to remove many of the Figs & other street trees surrounding the centre. I am so glad this has not happened & think it is a major boon for both the community & the wildlife.
Despite that this is a large shopping mall, the streetscape around the centre is quite unique for Marrickville. I personally enjoy walking here & find the trees beautiful. Metro could have so easily made the whole periphery look like the front entrance.
I do think Metro realises the community’s love for the leafy outlook of the shopping centre & their love for the trees. They had a mission to rejuvenate this area & they incorporated aspects that were inclusive to the local school & to anyone in the community who wants to play chess & sit in the shade of the Fig tree. There are good points & not so good points. I have included quite a few photos so you can make up your own mind & so that the good work they have done is not overshadowed by the front entrance.
Sydneysiders need to be aware & highly concerned at the rapid growth & loss of green space that is currently happening, plus the plans to take even more green space away.
Once the green space is gone, it is gone forever.
The loss of green space is a serious public health issue. Green space not only provides valuable habitat for wildlife, but it also cools the area around it. We need places with trees, grass & other vegetation.
We need green places for our mental, physical & spiritual health. Without access to decent green spaces human beings tend to suffer. People who suffer from mental illness can feel more settled when they are out in nature.
Recent research found without going into green spaces on a regular basis, people tend to get stressed, anxious, depressed, move less & gain weight. Many of us suffer morbid rumination, where we go over & over what we perceive are our failings or what is wrong with our lives. Just going for a walk where there are good trees can stop this mental thought process & improve our happiness & life satisfaction levels.
Green spaces provide us with a stress break in our busy lives & gives our mind a break from mental fatigue. Regular experience in the leafy outdoors helps improve work performance. It also helps improve our cognitive function, memory & ability to learn & retain information.
The intellectual development of children improves when they have contact with nature. Those who have ADD/ADHD tend to respond well to time spent in nature & have more content retention ability.
Research found that plants in the workplace resulted in decreased sick leave, so imagine the impact if there was nice green space for workers to have their lunch.
Those with Alzheimers or dementia are helped by being in green space & being able to touch plants.
“Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.” See – http://nyti.ms/2lmPlzr
It is a fundamental need of human beings to have access to good green spaces. By good green spaces, I am not talking about a small patch of green on a main street or in a shopping mall, though these do have a significant role to play in offering areas of respite & helping lowering the urban heat island effect.
We all need areas where we can exercise for free without needing to pay for a gym membership. We need space to let off steam, to run, to shout, to play games alone or with friends.
We also need spaces where were can walk or sit quietly – where the only sound is nature; the wind in the trees & birds singing. We must keep those we have & not over develop them.
In my opinion, Council has a fundamental responsibility not to turn every green space into an entertainment venue. Places must be left where the only entertainment is what you can see in the natural environment around you. If people become depended on things to be provided for them to do in parks, they will lose the ability to relax or amuse themselves with whatever is around.
As our suburbs become more developed, our stress levels are likely to rise just doing everyday things like driving & shopping. Already traffic is a major negative issue in the locality & parking is often a nightmare.
Our streets are also green spaces – or they can be depending on the species of street tree planted. Squatty small canopy street trees do not have an impact, but big, full canopy street trees do. Have a look at the streets that are fortunate enough to have 80-year-old plus Brushbox trees. In the evening on hot days you will likely see pockets of people who have gathered outside in the shade. Good street trees are excellent at fostering connectivity between neighbours.
Verge gardens encourage connectivity as well. People like to talk about plants & gardening. Verge gardens offer the ability to swap plants & provide cuttings.
Today the news reported that the Total Environment Centre has identified more than 70 green spaces across Sydney at risk of being lost to development. See – http://bit.ly/2nrf0qZ
This is most concerning. If allowed to go ahead, habitat will be lost, wildlife will suffer & in cases like Cooks Cove where they want to develop the wetlands in Barton Park (see – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi ) migratory birds, frogs & other creatures will die.
The report from the Total Environment Centre said, “Sydney will build 664,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, with 60-70 per cent coming from “infill” developments within existing city boundaries.”
We as the community will have to make our voice heard, considering the views of Anthony Roberts, the Minister in charge of Planning and Housing Affordability who said, “Anti-development activists are welcome to suggest ideas to me that will help us grow housing supply in NSW while protecting their favourite trees.”
I’ve got an idea Minister Roberts. How about leaving all the green spaces alone & not allowing development in these areas. It’s quite simple really. Leave the parks, the golf courses & riversides for the community & so people in the future can use them as well.
I get annoyed at the simplistic view of politicians who, whenever the community speaks out against developing areas like Barton Park wetlands, say they are anti-development NIMBYs wanting people to move out of Sydney. Do these political leaders not see another way in which green spaces & areas of vital habitat cab be retained for the benefit of the whole community now & most certainly for the benefit of future generations? It can be done.
We had three heatwaves in February 2017 & this is expected to get worse as climate change accelerates. Green spaces are essential components of a livable city. That or we take a risk every year that heat wave events will be more frequent. Loss of human life has happened in cities across the world as a result of heat waves. Our government warned us that the power supply was likely to be shut off because of increased use of air-conditioning.
The urban heat island effect is another serious health issue that is relatively ignored. Roads are still being covered in black bitumen as a way of maintaining them despite knowing that these are major heat sinks.
On 10th February 2017 the temperature at Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney Olympic Park was 41.6 degrees in the shade. However, some of the soft play surfaces in the children’s playground were around 84 degrees. The road surface in the car park was almost 73 degrees. This gives you an idea of our future if our gardens & streets are not significantly greened & if we lose green spaces. See – http://bit.ly/2lxujhu
“As Sydney’s population is growing there’s more houses, less trees, less green, more roads … it’s adding to the heat. ….. The way we’re going – and adding another million people plus an airport, more roads, more pollution, more industry, we can expect 10 more extreme hot days a year over 35 [degrees] ….. It will become the norm. Without the proper designs [and planning] the problem will only get worse.” ~ Stephen Bali, president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.
I remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia. We cannot afford to lose any of it, not even a morsel despite whatever the so-called gain to the community is slated to be. We cannot comment on public consultation in either the Leichhardt or Ashfield LGAs, despite being amalgamated into one large council. Therefore, Marrickville’s abysmal amount of green space should not be watered down by including green space from the other two municipalities we have amalgamated with.
Council should be taking every opportunity they can to add to the green space by transforming suitable areas of public space. I think they failed with Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road Marrickville, the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt & the latest being the unusually large street space area on the corner of Canterbury Road & Herbert Street Dulwich Hill, though this is my own opinion.
The public space outside the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro is also an area eliciting much conversation within the community. All that I have read or heard has been negative. Whether you like what Metro has done is personal, but there is no doubt a heat sink has been created with all that concrete & tiling. It is also a big loss to see that a number of mature trees have been removed.
Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Narrow-leafed red ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) opposite 6 Tramway Avenue Tempe.
Council gives the following reasons for removal –
- “Tree has significant crack in the main trunk causing it to be structurally unsound.
- The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”
Council says they will replace with a Red Iron Bark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) as part of the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017.
Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove two public trees in Stanmore.
Tree number 1: a Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna) outside 13 Stafford Street Stanmore.
Council gives the follow reasons for removal –
- “Tree has previously had several major branch failures which have resulted in weakened structural integrity.
- The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”
Council says they will replace with a Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.
I agree this tree needs to go. While I like Jacarandas, I think it is a shame to replace a big native tree species with an exotic.
The deadline for any submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017.
Tree number 2: a Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera) outside 62 Percival Road Stanmore.
Council gives the follow reasons for removal –
- “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback
- Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
- The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”
Council says they will replace with a Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) during the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.
I agree this tree needs to go & think it is good that Council is replacing a native with a native.
The deadline for any submissions is Friday 10th March 2017.