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(by Anne Wharton on behalf of Save Unley Trees Campaign)

Many residents in the Unley Council area are most concerned about the number of regulated and significant trees being removed from our suburbs, especially on private land.  Indeed this seems to be happening throughout suburban Adelaide.

In the property behind me at 47 Fairford Street are 2 huge River Red Gums, possibly 100+ years old.  The owners have recently submitted another application to Council to remove the western tree (their third application to cut down one or both of the trees).  Below is a photo taken today of the 2 trees and a photo taken before the new house was built nearly 2 years ago.  The tree under application is the right hand tree (western) and the bigger of the two and is on the Unley Council’s Significant Tree List.  You can also view again my neighbour Mark’s beautiful video of the trees at http://tinyurl.com/saveunleytrees.  If the application is successful, the removal of the western tree will have a detrimental impact on the eastern tree.

Top arborists in the state have emphasised the importance of such trees which are indigenous to the local area. These two trees are a community landmark, have enormous heritage value, and have important habitat and biodiversity value. This is as well as their huge environmental contribution in combatting climate change.

The Unley Council has done the right thing by twice engaging independent arborists.  These reports found that these sentinel River Red Gums are in good health and have the potential to remain actively growing at the site for another century or more.  As with previous applications, the owners have engaged arborists whose reports are in direct opposition with the Council’s independent reports.

The Council’s own arborist has declared that these trees are healthy and do not pose a significant risk. Two reports from a leading highly respected arborist confirm this as recently as January this year – so why are we still fighting for their survival?

Common sense says the Council should not be accepting any more applications on these trees – but  recent changes to the State government Planning legislation have weakened local council’s ability to protect our natural heritage and in particular our significant trees.  Common sense says, these trees have significant community value and the community should be allowed to comment – but again State government legislation won’t allow it. This gives property owners the licence to bombard Council with numerous applications, wasting the Council’s time and the rates we pay. 

Its time we stood up.  I urge you to write letters to the Unley Council and the State government stating that the legislation does not protect significant trees that are healthy and don’t pose a risk.

Please write to the Mayor and the CEO of Unley Council if you are concerned about the loss of these magnificent River Red Gums.  Below are their email addresses.

Mayor Lachlan Clyne – mayor.clyne@unley.sa.gov.au

CEO Peter Tsokas – cgowland@unley.sa.gov.au

Copy to:  Councillor Don Palmer – dpalmer@unley.sa.gov.au

Copy to:  Councillor Michael Hewitson – mhewitson@unley.sa.gov.au

Copy to:  Anne Wharton – whartonanne@gmail.com

We urge you to also write to the Minister for Planning, Mr John Rau (email address: agd@agd.sa.gov.au)

23rd May 2017.

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Please find below some feedback from Michael Rabbit, Councillor for Unley Park Ward, regarding the community consultation on the Unley Central Precinct.

The following is a more structured outline of the revised consultation. Please circulate to your members.

Further to the advice on Monday, and in response to concerns about the status of this initial consultation, a number of actions have been undertaken: 

  • A feature article will appear in the Unley Life Magazine to be released from the 8 December 2015
  • The project has been brought onto the landing page of the Council web-site
  • Direct web page links and new text on the project have been provided
  • Facebook and Twitter updates are being posted
  • The timeframe for feedback has been extended to 24 December 2015
  • A large display notice will be published in the next Eastern Courier Messenger on 2 December 2015
  • A reminder will be included in the ECM Unley Life column on 9 December 2015
  • A Message will be placed on the LED sign in Oxford Terrace
  • Another updated letter (and survey sheet) will be sent out to the stakeholder catchment area on 2 December 2015
  • Additional drop-in sessions with consultants and staff will be held in the library on
    • Saturday 12 December between 11:00am and 1:00pm
    • Thursday 17 December 2015 between 6:00pm and 8:00pm
  • A stand and appropriate documents will be available in the Civic Centre offices
  • Staff will attend the stand as required and be available to answer phone calls about any queries

The consultation and feedback at this stage is focussed on the broader concepts, issues and impacts for the future Unley Central.  Respondents are encouraged to provide their own views, not just critique the ideas of others.

 This feedback will help guide the determination of directions in early 2016 by Council that will then be the subject of another round of comprehensive consultation.  A DPA will subsequently be developed and subject to its own statutory and comprehensive consultation later in 2016.

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27 March 2015

Mr. Lachlan Clyne,
Mayor,
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.

Yours sincerely

Ros Islip
President

cc Peter Tsokas
Paul Weymouth
All elected members
Trevor Stein
Lee Anderson
Grow Grow Unley

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Friends of the City of Unley Society Inc. (FOCUS) was formed by residents concerned about preserving the historic character and heritage of the City of Unley.

This proposed development currently is out of character for Unley.
FOCUS is not against urban infill in Unley but it needs to be done very carefully to keep the character of the area and to maintain the amenities residents presently have. All changes need to be sensitively addressed to minimise the impact on the environment.

FOCUS wishes to register its concerns about the proposed 244-248 Unley Road Redevelopment.

FOCUS has the following concerns:

  • The proposal is to construct a 7 storey building, while the policy guideline is 5 storeys, this does not comply with the policy provisions of the zone. After much consultation the Council and community agreed on this and it was signed off by the Government. Were the Development Assessment Commission to pass this proposal it shows complete contempt for the Council and community.
    What is the point of Regulations if they are completely ignored?
  • There is no setback of the upper levels while policy proposes a 3 metre setback. FOCUS supports a 3 metre setback on Unley Road and also Opey Avenue which would enable the trees to be saved which the arborist reports are healthy. This would provide an attractive entrance to the development.
  • There is a shortfall of on-site parking which needs to be addressed.
  • Traffic management needs to be addressed as currently Unley Road has issues and in Opey Avenue and Hart Street it is impossible to pass when there are cars parked on either side of the street.
  • There is no plan to manage traffic and parking during the construction phase of the development.
  • The removal of 2 regulated and 1 significant trees,
  • The trees identified as street trees are unsuitable for shade and the scale of the building. A large tree could be planted in the centre of the building
    There is no planned increase in infrastructure in Unley, ie kindergarten and schools are at capacity now. During peak hour buses on Unley Road at Unley frequently don’t stop as they are full.
  • No buffer is provided between the development and the residential zone to the west in accordance with Unley’s Development Plan.
  • There is a lack of open space in Unley which is the lowest in suburban Adelaide at less than 3%. This proposal has the opportunity to give back some open space by setting the building back from the Unley Road boundary. If a seven storey development is ultimately permitted this extra open space would be a good trade off.
  • There is evidence to demonstrate health risks of living on main roads.

FOCUS commends the proposed development if the above issues were addressed as there are some positive aspects to it.

  • There is only 40% coverage of site.
  • The planned town houses on Western boundary are 2 storeys.
  • The 30% angle at the rear of the site.
  • The provision of 82 bicycle parks.
  • The architects have been prepared to meet residents from the community and discuss their concerns.

FOCUS recommends that there is further discussion with residents, local business owners and Unley Council as this is the first proposal for a large apartment building for Unley Road. It is important that it complies with the policy provisions for the zone and sets a high standard of design.

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David Pisoni MP will be hosting a Public Meeting Regarding the proposed seven story development at 244-248 Unley Road

7pm Thursday 5th February
Unley Community Centre
18 Arthur Street Unley

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FOCUS has prepared a response to FOCUS response to DPA 3 Main Road Corridor Vitalisation – Greenhill and Unley Roads, which you can download in PDF and Word formats and is also copied entirely below.

Please use either of these in preparing your own response, which are due by 5 pm on Friday 22nd of February. Click on the link below to access the City of Unley web page for the DPA3 submission page.

http://www.unley.sa.gov.au/site/page.aspx?c=24873

(more…)

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