Government contradicts developer over tree removal

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GOVERNMENT spokespeople have provided two detailed explanations of why the Canberra House annexe redevelopment project will include removal of street trees on nearby public land, and both contradict what the property developer told “CityNews” yesterday.

One of the "ageing" trees being replaced near Canberra House.
One of the “ageing” trees being replaced near Canberra House.
It now appears that the Morris Property Group applied to remove at least 10 trees and this was approved on the proviso it would replace the “ageing” trees with younger ones, because the Planning and Land Authority decided this will result in a better outcome for the city.

A typically head-spinning process of asking for detail about decisions made within the ACT Government resulted in responses last night from the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate (ESDD) and the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury.

The TAMS Minister’s spokesperson says the removal of 10 trees has been authorised while the ESDD spokesperson says the development will expose 15 trees to “impacts that may be potentially detrimental to the survival and amenity of the trees”, but doesn’t specifically say how many will be removed.

Today the public notification signs only remained on six in the area, and we now know the development application requires the Morris Property Group to supply a minimum of 10 new “advanced” trees.

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Mr Rattenbury’s spokesperson says:

Under the final Development Application (DA) Notice of Decision the removal of four Plane trees in West Row and six other trees south of Canberra House was approved by Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate.

Tree removal was approved as it was considered that the proposed replacement of ageing trees with younger advanced trees would result in improved landscape outcomes for West Row as well as a better outcome for the development in terms of public amenity and safety.

A condition of the DA was that the developer supplies and plants a minimum of 10 advanced trees at locations near and around the development to be specified by Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS). The planting specifications included the addition of underground infrastructure including tree planting pits and structural soils. Tree planting sites will be identified by TAMS, closer to the re-development works. These conditions require the developer to invest in public landscape in a way that will increase successful tree growth, tree longevity and general amenity in the CBD.

The ESDD spokesperson says:

As part of the development application for redevelopment of Canberra House, the proponent applied for removal of a number of trees on adjoining unleased land forming part of the verge to West Row and the adjoining open space (Hobart Place). The application was supported with a detailed arboriculture impact assessment and tree management plan. An urban design statement submitted by the proponent and detailed plans were also taken into consideration by the planning and land authority in considering their request.

From this information and on-site inspections the planning and land authority established that the proposed development will expose four street trees on the West Row verge; four street trees on the Alinga Street verge; and seven trees on the adjoining open space (closest to the proposed building) to impacts that may be potentially detrimental to the survival and amenity of the trees.

To offset the loss of the removed trees, the proponent is required to undertake a number of improvements including, the supply and planting of advanced tree stock in the West Row verge and between the car park and the development to the south. The replacement trees along West Row will improve the streetscape and complement the street plantings adjacent to the Melbourne Building. …

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