Category Archives: Tree Protection

HELP SAVE GLEN EIRA’s TREES

Unlike all other Metro Melbourne Councils, Glen Eira does not have a significant tree register or a tree protection policy for trees located on private or public (ie. street or park) land.

Over the years, successive Glen Eira Councils, have considered introducing tree protection measures yet, except for the loss of more trees, nothing has been achieved.  GERA,  as per our 2015 posting -“Why doesn’t Glen Eira have a Significant Tree Resister or Tree Protection Strategy ‘, concluded this was because “Glen Eira Council, despite residents expressed wishes, doesn’t want either a Tree Register or Tree Protection Strategy”

Last October residents elected a new Council.

With the current development boom, significant trees located on private land are now seriously at risk – particularly as moonscaping seems to be the preferred first stage of redevelopment.

Mayor Mary Delahunty is currently seeking residents support to get a significant tree register added to the Community Plan at next Tuesday’s Council Meeting (27 June).

Although the register is still at the conceptual stage (ie. without detailed information on tree registration processes or criteria), GERA urges residents to support this initiative.  It is a long overdue first step in a many step process that finally shows Council recognises the importance of tree preservation for current and future generations.

You can register your support for a tree register by sending a letter or email to the Mayor (with a copy all Councillors).   Below is a sample letter/email

Subject:   Request for Significant Tree Register to protect trees on private land.

Too many old and gorgeous trees are being lost for more housing.  Glen Eira needs a significant tree register to protect trees on private land.  It is the right thing to do to keep our city green and environmentally friendly. I urge you to support the inclusion of a significant tree register in the Community Plan. 

Councillors names and email addresses

Cr Mary Delahunty (Mayor): MDelahunty@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Cr Jamie Hyams: JHyams@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Jim Magee JMagee@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Nina Taylor NTaylor@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Margaret Esakoff: MEsakoff@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Clare Davey: CDavey@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Tony Athanasopoulos: TAthanasopoulos@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Joel Silver: JSilver@gleneira.vic.gov.au
Cr Dan Sztrajt: DSztrajt@gleneira.vic.gov.au

Letters can be mailed to

Glen Eira Council at PO Box 42, Caulfield South 3162

WHY DOESN’T GLEN EIRA HAVE A SIGNIFICANT TREE REGISTER OR TREE PROTECTION STRATEGY

As more and more properties are being totally or partially cleared of vegetation, the above question is increasingly being asked by residents. Tree Protection is a longstanding issue that residents have consistently flagged as a high priority numerous times over many years and that Council has been working on for just as many years. Yet Glen Eira still lacks both a publicly available Tree Register and a Tree Protection Strategy. Instead Glen Eira relies on Planning Scheme provisions which, without defining “significant”, are only “triggered” when two events coincide, ie. a planning permit is lodged with Council and an inspection of the property identifies “significant” vegetation.   To address this obvious issue, the majority of other Victorian Councils enacted (local law) Tree Registers and Tree Protection Strategies years ago, however, Glen Eira is still working on it and in March 2015 voted* to defer this work until an unspecified time.

Consequently and sadly, this leads us to suspect that the answer to the above question is that Glen Eira Council, despite residents expressed wishes, doesn’t want either a Tree Register or Tree Protection Strategy.

* The vote was a split decision – Crs. Lipshutz, Esakoff, Magee (Mayor), Lobo and Okotel voting for deferral with Crs. Delahunty, Pilling, Sounness and Hyams voting against deferral.  Extract from Council Minutes – 17/3/2015.

So what is and are the implications of establishing both a Tree Register and a Tree Protection Strategy.  When both are combined they result in a Tree protection outcome that is consistent with the principles of good town planning.   Basic definitions are

  • Tree Register is a publicly available list of trees, which includes details of the specimens which have been deemed to be significant. Details usually include species name (botanical and common), tree location, type of location (private or public land), condition and brief statement of significance. Under the Tree Protection Strategy, once designated as significant, or given a “pending review” status, the Tree Protection Strategy and appropriate Planning Scheme Provisions are activated. A tree register is not a static list, it is updated if trees die or require removal and new specimens are identified.
  • Tree Protection Strategy incorporates the rules governing the addition or the removal of trees to/from the tree register. Typical components included in a strategy are:
    • Assessment criteria – many and varied.   For example the City of Kingston’s criteria considers horticultural value, location or context, rarity or localised distribution, age and potential life span, outstanding size, aesthetic values or curious growth form, outstanding examples of their species, cultural or historical significance.
    • Assessment process – from nomination to determination of significance by a panel of arborists and landscapers.   Most Councils have a open to all nomination process, however, past Council Minutes indicate that, since implementation of tree register may create local controversy (neighbour vs. neighbour), Glen Eira Council favours a closed nomination process.
    • Tree maintenance activities that may/may not require a permit, permit requirements and fees
    • Appropriate protection measures to be adopted (reference to Planning Scheme and additional protective measures if, and as, considered appropriate).
    • Availability of tree maintenance advice, provided by Council Arborists, to the custodians (owners) of significant trees on private property.
    • Appropriate penalty clauses.

Readers should also note that establishing a Tree Register and Tree Protection Strategy

  • In combination, ensure tree protection that is consistent with good planning principles
  • are an addition to Planning Scheme Provisions, they neither replace nor diminish those provisions
  •     they offer a higher level of protection than the Planning Scheme since permission is required before any action that can damage a classified tree may be undertaken. The protection “trigger” is not restricted to the lodging of a planning permit application on the property where the tree is located.
  •     provides for shared responsibilities for the retention and care of significant trees that span property boundaries
  •     does not preclude arborist site inspections when a planning permit is lodged and the identification of a tree considered worthy of addition to the tree register.
  •     additionally, a tree’s inclusion in a publicly available Tree Register will ensure that if the property is to be re-developed, the retention/protection of identified significant tree/s must be taken into account during the preparation of the proposed development’s plans.

GERA considers this a significant improvement to the current process,

  • which as per the Officers Report, involves significant tree identification and protections occurring after the development’s plans have been lodged with Council.
  • as the Tree Strategy would/should include an orderly and appropriate process for determining if and when significant trees are to be permitted to be removed because of redevelopment requirements. Under the current process, the decision to allow significant tree removal is “discretionary” – with many residents complaining that significant trees located in the growth zones are ”assessed in the same way as the Gum in Neerim Road was”.   Extract from Council Minutes 28/06/2011

“There is one high value tree at the rear of 179 Neerim Road (Manna Gum) according to Council’s Landscape Assessment Officer. This tree is not proposed to be retained and is not protected by a planning scheme control or local law. In any event, the tree in its residential context is considered to be too large for its setting. It is also located on a site identified as being a strategic location for housing diversity. On balance, its removal is considered acceptable. Recommended conditions will require the planting of 7 new advanced canopy trees throughout the site.”

  •  It would also strengthen ResCode’s “defacto tree retention control” mentioned in the Officer’s Report. This control requires that any town planning permit assessment must consider any trees removed within the 12 months prior to application lodgement as still existing.   Given land-banking and/or the elapsed time between contracting to purchase a property and lodging a permit, it does not provide the same disincentive to totally or partially clear a site that a Tree Register and Strategy provides (ie. how do they know what trees were there, goes beyond 12 months plus 1 day).

In addition to the comments made above, we further comment

  • That while we applaud the comment that “it is estimated that over 200 valued trees are protected each year” we are concerned that number cannot be verified and are questioning the planning zone applicable to the location of the 200+ trees. Resident’s report that few significant trees are identified in the growth zones.
  • While again we applaud the comment “that every approved multi unit dwelling proposal has a permit condition which requires a landscape plan to be submitted and approved by Council. The landscape plan process is an opportunity to ensure the planting of well advanced (between 2m to 3m in height when planted) future canopy trees. The landscape plans are prepared by a suitably qualified person and, importantly, signed off by Council’s landscape architect” we are again concerned about the provision of future canopy trees, particularly in the growth zones.

The high density growth zones are the areas which will benefit most from the planting of future canopy trees – come to GERA’s forum tomorrow night to find out why. However, in these zones, most of the developments include boundary to boundary basement car parks with either

  • Minimal soil coverage to service both landscaping plants and canopy trees or
  • The construction of above ground concrete planters for canopy trees

We also have concerns about the enforcement of conditions related to landscaping and the planting of future canopy trees. In the above mentioned instance of a Neerim Road property, soil coverage is minimal and the required 7 (at a minimum of 3.0 metres tall) future canopy tree plantings (4 within the Neerim Road setback and 3 in the South-West Corner) have either not been planted or subsequently died and not been replaced.

To aid the growth of future canopy trees, we urge Council to apply the same set back requirements to basement car parks as are applied to above ground building envelope.

FROGMORE UPDATE

Many readers will remember GERA’s unsuccessful “ Save Frogmore Campaign” (1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie) and Glen Eira Council’s shameful 9/6/2015 decision to abandon applying heritage protection to Frogmore House before it could be assessed by an Independent Planning Panel (effectively denying all stakeholders access to the appropriate due planning scheme amendment process). The end result being the demolition of Frogmore House occurring in July, 2015.

Unfortunately, it appears that an addendum has recently been added to the shameful Frogmore Saga.   This time it is related to processing the of the planning permit application for a two storey Aged Care Facility which includes a proposal to remove 88 trees from the site.

BRIEF RECAP

The 9/6/2015 decision to abandon heritage decision for Frogmore was made

  • despite
    • a Council commissioned Independent Heritage Expert Assessment (Jan, 2015), which unequivocally recommended Heritage Protection at the Municipal Level.
    • it being inconsistent with the Glen Eira Municipal Strategic Statement, Glen Eira Planning Scheme and the 1987 Planning and Environment Act objectives of planning for Victoria. Inadequate strategic justification was provided to support this inconsistency.
    • a recommendation from the National Trust
    • considerable community support for Heritage Protection to be applied to Frogmore (petition of approx. 1000 signatures, planning conference 300+ letters of support for protection vs. 2 against protection)
    • Council’s
      • Instigation (reportedly by Mayor Magee) of an Interim Protection Order for Frogmore in Jan, 2015
      • 2/2/2015 6 to 3 decision to proceed with Heritage Protection based on the January, 2015 Heritage Advisor’s Report (For Protection Crs. Sounness, Okotel, Lobo, Delahunty, Esakoff and Magee; Against Protection Crs. Pilling, Hyams and Lipshutz)
  • based on
    • reliance on an inappropriate process (the planning permit approval process) to determined Heritage Values vs. the appropriate Planning Scheme Amendment process
    • reliance on an outdated (2002) Municipal Wide Heritage Assessment that recognised Frogmore as significant but excluded it from Heritage Protection in part because in was not located in a heritage protection area.   This flawed 2002 application of  the “safety in numbers” concept to heritage determination overrode the January 2015 assessment (which in addition to many other factors), recommended protection due to it’s individual location (rarity) and took into account social and demographic changes that had occurred since 2002. “It’s a victim of it’s own rarity”
    • that the potential purchaser (Jewish Care) had acted in good faith and undertaken significant expenditure in identifying and negotiating the site for re-development as an Aged Care Facility. FYI – caveat emptor is not listed as either a planning or heritage consideration
    • an unsubstantiated determination of Net Community Benefit of 120 beds. With 120 beds equating Jewish Care’s assessment of site potential if Frogmore wasn’t retained.  Clearly, this net community benefit calculation ascribes a zero value to heritage.
    • the decision of Heritage Victoria not to award State Level Protection to Frogmore which was a decision based on an assessment at the broader State Level rather than smaller Municipal Level. Council’s use of the Heritage Victoria decision as a justification, ignores the fact that Heritage Protection, within Australia, provides for heritage recognition and protection at the Municipal Level. It also ignores the fact that Council’s commissioned 01/ 2015, Heritage Advisors Assessment was undertaken at the Municipal Level and recommends protection at that level

 “Frogmore is significant to the locality of Carnegie and Murrumbeena and City of Glen Eira and should be conserved as one of the cultural assets of the city   … Frogmore House should be included in the schedule to heritage over lay clause 43.01 by the Glen Eira Planning Scheme”.

  • a casting vote – in the absence of the Mayor (Magee) and declarations of conflicts of interest (arising since February, 2015) from the Deputy Mayor (Delahunty) and Cr. Esakoff, the immediate past Mayor Cr. Pilling took and chair and exercised his casting vote. (For Protection Crs. Sounness, Okotel, Lobo; Against Protection Crs. Pilling (2 votes), Hyams and Lipshutz)

CURRENT ISSUE

9/6/2015              Decision to abandon heritage protection

17/6/2015           Planning Permit Application for a 2 storey Aged Care Facility at 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie, lodged with Council for Council review.

21/7/2015            Frogmore House Demolished

13/9/2015            1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie site aerial photo ex Nearmap

wahgoo spetember 2015

15/9/2015           Advertising period for Planning Permit Application commenced, ie. plans made available for residents review and possible objections.

Included in the permit documentation provided for residents review is a proposal for the removal of 88 trees – we’d appreciate readers assistance in finding them in the above 13/9/2015 aerial photograph.

To aid you below is a aerial picture of the site circa January, 2015.

Frogmore H&L

And a picture taken during the July 2015 demolition works

012 T

29/9/2015           Advertising period completed. Objections received to be considered by Council in near future.