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Renewal SA tight-lipped over date for North Tce tree destruction


Renewal SA is not revealing when it will axe eleven century-old trees on North Terrace as part of the Lot Fourteen development, after Adelaide City Council last night formally approved removing the trees from the public footpath.

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How the North Terrace tree saga has played out:

The majority of councillors – including Houssam Abiad, Franz Knoll, Mary Couros, Alexander Hyde, Arman Abrahimzadeh, Simon Hou and Jessy Khera – voted in support of a Renewal SA request to remove ten 100-year-old elms and one plane tree lining the northern side of North Terrace from Frome Road to the front of the Bice Building.

Nine of the trees are regulated, with one listed as significant.

According to the council, the trees are expected to live to at least 2039 and hold a monetary value of $660,000.

Renewal SA argued the trees’ removal was necessary to create a “seamless entry” to Lot Fourteen at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

It pledged it would plant 12, 6.5-metre high semi-mature trees along the footpath to replace the trees awaiting the axe, with more than double the amount of established plane trees to also be planted throughout Lot Fourteen.

InDaily asked Renewal SA to say when the eleven street trees would be removed.

A spokesperson said works had already commenced on the “public realm” within the Lot Fourteen site boundary.

“Following landlord (city council) approval, works will commence outside Lot Fourteen’s boundary in the sequence necessary to complete the planned public realm works,” the spokesperson said.

According to a State Government media release sent in August, the Lot Fourteen public realm works are scheduled to be delivered in a series of stages, with the first stage due to start this month.

The release said the public realm works would be completed by early next year.

Following a heated meeting last week, protestors again gathered at Town Hall to attempt to persuade councillors to save the trees from the axe.

“These trees and this footpath has not been in the way for over 100 years – thousands and thousands of people coming to and from the old Royal Adelaide Hospital were able to get through with them there,” protestor Jeanne Davidson said during a deputation at last night’s meeting.

“Renewal SA have got it badly wrong.”

Another protestor, Lucien Chaffey, argued the landscaper in charge of the development could use permeable pavement to allow the trees to survive.

“Any assessment that it is impossible to keep these trees is ignorant and disingenuous,” she said.

“It looks very much to me that a hostile development agenda is being pushed forward.”

Oxigen director James Hayter, whose architecture firm was employed by Renewal SA to produce landscape designs for Lot Fourteen, previously told the council it would be impossible to guarantee the trees’ survival during excavation works.

“The first thing we did was say, ‘can we keep these trees?’ and the answer was ‘no you can’t do that’,” Hayter said earlier this month.

“If we went in there and excavated to put new paving in we would be potentially cutting all the lateral roots, which would potentially kill the trees.”

A render of the proposed North Terrace footpath design as part of the Lot Fourteen development. Image: State Government

During last night’s council meeting, area councillor Franz Knoll, who moved that the council accept Renewal SA’s request, said it was a “really difficult and heartfelt decision”.

“They’re 100-years-old yes, but they have a limited lifespan going forward and in that time we still have to maintain those trees and they still would have to be removed,” he said.

“Any change that we have… would last three or four generations of people and that’s about the future, not retaining the present.

“There are 42 trees replacing the eleven and these are going to be looking their best in 2030, 2040.”

North ward councillor Phil Martin attempted to amend the recommendation to ensure the trees would not be removed until 2099.

“This vote will just serve the interests of the State Government,” he said.

“We got to this point by ignoring the 10,000 people who protested on the streets of Adelaide last week (about climate change), we ignored a petition which is signed by 1500 people from around Australia saying ‘please save these trees’ and we’ve even ignored our own staff report – our own arborist – who says ‘these trees are healthy’.

“It is no wonder that our staff think that we’re a mob of dropkicks.”

Martin won support from area councillor Anne Moran and south ward councillor Helen Donovan, but failed to convince the rest of the chamber.

Area councillor Robert Simms, who previously indicated he did not support the removal of the trees, was absent from last night’s meeting.

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