Breaking news 31.5.2011


The Herald reports today that one of the Newcastle City Councillors is proposing that we chop down the Laman Street trees – after replacing underground cables.

Here’s the link to the article.

I’d call this unseemly haste, to only wait five months. And does it sound like underground cables could be the reason why these trees are so ‘unsafe’? And, as usual, the word ‘evidence’ is over-used.

Optimism isn’t something I’ve felt in relation to the whole issue but I have to say I thought it would go away for a bit longer than this. I look forward to hearing more about the ‘up to $100 000′.

The other news is that we have designer-colour fences in Laman Street. The steel ones were in part replaced with black fences – so we can ‘see through them’, apparently. Do you think the rental on these is higher or lower?

And in a happy piece of news, congratulations to Cr Osborne whose proposal to enclose the figs with garden beds and have a design competition for gates was the subject of the television story of yesterday’s post. You can read about it in the Herald here.

The Working Party meetings are open to the public and the next one where this will be discussed is on 1st June at 5:30pm at City Hall. See you there.

And lastly, Germany has become the first industrialised nation to plan to rid itself of all nuclear power within a decade. Home



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2 Responses to “Breaking news 31.5.2011”

  1. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    I am saddened by this story, but not exactly shocked. Below is an email I have just sent to the Lord Mayor and Councillors. I hope they get it right… again.

    Lord Mayor and Councillors,

    I am again writing to you in support of the retention and protection of the iconic Laman Street Fig Trees.

    Your excellent decision five months ago to save these trees is now placed under renewed threat by Councillor Cook’s proposal to remove them.

    I find Clr. Cook’s proposal to be short-sighted and wrong. The heritage of a city cannot be arbitrarily torn down and replaced at a later date. It is vital that efforts at conservation and preservation be consistent, reliable and unwavering. Otherwise, a tacit message is sent that anything can be considered fair game for destruction in the name of progress, cost-saving or convenience.

    Conversely, the proposal of Clr. Osborne is showing that a sensitive and creative approach can provide a method to not only preserve these wonderful trees, but also to enhance the surrounding beauty and to reduce the concern for damage during severe wind storms. This is the proposal which merits additional study.

    I would also respectfully urge you as a body to consider establishing a broader and more consistent policy for the treatment of culturally important elements in Newcastle, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. In doing so you will be preserving, for current and future generations, the fabric which makes Newcastle very special and unique.

    Thank you for your time,

  2. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    Having more thoughts on the subject, I emailed some of them to Councillor Osborne. I have found that complaining with a suggested solution often works better than just complaining. I hope this is not treading on anyone’s toes by putting the following forth:

    (to Councillor Osborne)

    Is there any reason that Laman Street could not be closed to vehicular traffic between Dawson and Darby Streets, then seriously de-paved to allow unfettered root development for the figs? Pedestrian access could be provided clear from the existing trees, in essence creating a new pedestrian plaza under the tree canopy.

    Queen Street already has a barricade to prevent through traffic, so diverted traffic would logically take Auckland to King Street. Queen Street also unfortunately has the view of a seriously ugly collection of open parking lots behind the Baptist Tabernacle and Cultural Centre/Library which are currently visible through the row of street trees on the north side of Queen Street.

    Those parking lots could be utilised much more efficiently if combined and a multi-level parking structure built, partially subterranean to minimise height and keeping the existing trees on Queen Street. This structure, if well designed, would provide attractive and sympathetic facades towards all the abutting streets and would be accessible from both Dawson and Darby Streets, or only Darby Street if problematic for the existing residents on the first block of Dawson Street. No access at all from Queen Street to the parking structure would be necessary, giving more available space for landscaping with the removal of the existing driveway.

    I wonder if such a structure would eliminate the pressure to create one under the Laman Street trees as was once proposed. It would be almost as close as Laman Street, would more than compensate for any lost parking spaces on Laman Street and would visually improve the aspect from Queen Street. Perhaps someone has already proposed something like this, or the land may be slated for another use. Please let me know if so.

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