Anzac Centennial Place 28.11.2011

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I, like all the people I know, look at the Laman Street trees and see sturdy mature trees that are possibly only halfway through their lifespan if they’re not removed. So can I be forgiven for questioning the risk arguments thrown at the community, elected councillors and Newcastle Council’s insurer?

Can I be forgiven for trying to work out what’s behind the plan to remove them – since the risk argument just doesn’t ring true to so many of us? And can I be forgiven for objecting to the fact that NCC failed to treat it like the development it seems to be?

Is all this as bland as NCC wanting to replace an electricity cable or water pipe and doing anything to be able to do that? Moving the electricity cable would have cost Council $350 000. A fraction of the million-plus they’ve wasted.

Or is it because someone came up with the idea of levelling the street and putting in tidy new European trees gracing the ‘upgraded’ Art Gallery – and the idea of removing the fig trees never went away, having ‘grown legs’ as it were.

In any case, very soon after the August 2010 vote to remove the trees (under the pretext that they were a traffic hazard and thus in desperate need of felling under the Roads Act to protect us all [remember to tilt your head to the side and ask ‘che?’ at this point: every time you hear this]) a document appeared describing Someone’s vision of changing the look and name of Laman Street to Anzac Centennial Place. This was to commemorate 100 years since Gallipoli.

A cynical person might think that this centenary project was seen as a funding opportunity to pay for pavers and tree vaults and tree felling, rather than a true attempt at a moving new memorial. After more than two years of controversy and over $1million of wasted council finds the plan seems very inappropriate now.

Some people may have been suspicious that council had planned the development of the street in the months and years leading up to the vote to remove the ‘risky’ trees but we were assured that this was not the case.

In fact, when the Parks and Playgrounds movement (PPM) challenged NCC on the issue it’s interesting that in the NCC’s Submissions, filed and dated October 5th 2010 in the Land and Environment Court clause 77 reads

“(a) No works beyond the removal of the trees has been sanctioned or are presently proposed and

(b) to the extent that any works are envisaged to be undertaken beyond the removal of the trees, those works are in a consequence of the removal of the trees.”

However, on the exact date that the Parks and Playgrounds Movement filed their summons in the Court, PPM say, the Commonwealth received a proposal from the Council for the widening of Laman street into Civic Park and levelling and other earthworks to create a wide plaza that required the removal of the trees.

PPM were only made aware of the detail of the proposal to the Commonwealth for funding after the Court case.

The submission was dated September 17th 2010. Presumably we’ll be splitting hairs about the meaning of the words ‘sanctioned’ and ‘proposed’ and that the months of planning using the community reference panel, long before it was agreed by the elected Council to remove the trees was because Someone was psychic.  Home

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One Response to “Anzac Centennial Place 28.11.2011”

  1. ArchitectGJA Says:

    I suppose this is far too unscientific, but that tree being removed appears to be firmly rooted in the ground and where the cut marks are visible there is absolutely no indication of any decay, it’s all fresh, solid and healthy.

    I wonder what an independent expert in arboriculture would have to say…

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