27 March 2015
Mr. Lachlan Clyne,
City of Unley,
PO Box 1,
Unley SA 5061.
Dear Mr. Clyne,
We are writing to you to suggest that Council consider a specific suggestion to preserve more of the City of Unley’s treescape.
On the evening of 10th March, FOCUS organised a meeting at which Mr. Lee Anderson, Council’s arborist, gave a presentation on the strategic direction and management of the City’s trees. The meeting was attended by six elected members and by members of the Grow Grow Gardening group, located in Unley.
We would like to congratulate Mr. Anderson on his excellent presentation. He drew from his extensive experience in Australia and overseas and provided an excellent briefing on the issues surrounding trees and their management – including their ageing (and therefore the tree replacement strategy), the impact of climate change on tree species, and the potential for pests to impact Unley’s treescape.
During the course of the presentation, Mr. Anderson explained that 26% of Unley is covered by foliage and highlighted the key role this plays in Unley’s liveability and property values. In the question time that followed, two councillors involved in the Development Assessment Panel discussed the difficulty that they face in assessing arborists’ reports tabled by proponents of developments. In some cases, arborists’ reports on particular trees appear to come to very differing conclusions – some recommending removal and others recommending retention. The councillors explained that, in many instances of such conflicting reports, it appears safer to err on the side of safety and support removal of trees. It thus appears that, in the current circumstances, a number of unnecessary removals of established trees may be taking place. It was noted that these trees are generally larger, older and more significant to the amenity of the neighbourhood.
In response, Mr. Anderson commented on the relatively low actual risk posed by trees and advised that there was not presently a requirement for arborists’ reports to adhere to Australian Standards (or equivalent international standard) and suggested that a requirement to do so might reduce the number of conflicting reports and, more generally, lift the standard of assessment.
We consider that there is merit in the City of Unley requiring arborists’ reports presented in support of a development application to adhere to the relevant Australian Standard (or equivalent international standard) and recommend that Council adopts a policy along these lines. The impact of such a requirement should be to ensure that there is a higher standard applied to trees being assessed for removal – thus eliminating unnecessary removal of trees and preserving the best of the treescape for Unley.
The Government requirement that only immediate neighbours are notified of the proposal to remove a Significant or Regulated Tree deprives residents in a more distant and wider area who also appreciate the trees, the opportunity to comment or object. We hope that this matter will be given earnest consideration.
FOCUS has noted that some inner suburban councils in Melbourne have a simple, clear documented process that where there is a request for the removal of a Significant or Regulated Tree the Planning Department staff are required to consult with the Council Arborist and Policy Planner responsible for developing the Historic and Streetscapes Development Plans. FOCUS members have reported that in Unley this does not always occur and frequently they are informed by residents.
We are happy to meet with you or Council officers to discuss this matter further if that would assist.
cc Peter Tsokas
All elected members
Grow Grow Unley