Developers fail to see the forest for the trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
With apologies to American poet, Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), I think that I shall never see a development as lovely as a tree – particularly three trees that belong to the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF). These three beauties, identified as remnant native trees, are part of the STIF endangered ecological community and were proposed to be removed from the site of a 8-storey development on the eastern side of Lindfield Station in Sydney’s leafy North Shore (aerial photo of the trees above).
But Susan Dixon, a Land and Environment Court commissioner, has dismissed an appeal by the developers, Arkibuilt Pty Ltd, because under their amended application all trees would still be removed from the site.
In her judgment, Commissioner Dixon said Ku-ring-gai Council contended that the development could be redesigned to preserve and protect the STIF on the site. But Arkibuilt said there was no opportunity for a redesign of the proposal because the trees block the access path to the basement car park entry. And the removal of the trees was the principal issue in the proceedings. Here’s a link to the judgment: http://bit.ly/1BwcVfR
As one of the objectors to the development, led by the Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment (FOKE), and their president, Kathy Cowley, I gave evidence at the start of the hearing onsite in May that the 8 storey structure comprising 62 apartments, with parking for 147 cars over three levels of basement car parking, a shop and a gourmet grocer, would result in traffic gridlock, danger to pedestrians, a fairly ugly streetscape, the destruction of the village atmosphere, as well as the removal of the trees. The development would overlook a small street – Lindfield Avenue – next to the station, which turns into a two-way lane under the railway bridge, already constantly jammed with traffic. I described the proposed development as a Nightmare on Havilah Lane, as access to the site would have been by that small lane.
In her judgment, Commissioner Dixon summed up objectors’ concerns: “… the bulk and scale of the development, the traffic impacts generated by the development on the local road network, the loss of a local community shopping strip and services, affordable residential housing proximate to the railway and public services and the loss of the STIF.”
Not only were we concerned about the above, but also the loss of a community-minded garage, run by Greg Doherty, who looks after customers with good old-fashioned service, and the isolation of a Chinese takeaway and a café between Doherty Automotive and a nine-storey development, due to go ahead from 23 to 37 Lindfield Avenue. That would make the nightmare complete!
I wrote a post about these two developments earlier this year (http://wp.me/p1Ytmx-fJ), and was surprised when the Land and Environment Court dismissed the appeal. But the developers deserved the judgment. As I wrote in a reply to a comment from a mechanic who worked at Doherty Automotive and was upset with the developers: “Thanks, Lee for that heartfelt comment. It deserves to be read by every resident of Lindfield, indeed, of Ku-ring-gai, as similar actions by developers and owners are likely to be taken in our suburbs. I have heard about the alleged harassment of Mrs Ducker, who has finally given up the fight and signed an option with the developer. I hadn’t heard about the petition, and the alleged harassment of Greg Doherty, one of Lindfield’s most respected businessmen, who has helped many residents in distress with car problems, and runs the best service station in Sydney in my opinion. It’s outrageous, if it’s true, that he was put under pressure because of a petition that clearly reflected the feelings of the community. It’s a petition I would sign immediately if it were presented to me. Saving small businesses and the village atmosphere are issues the entire community should be fighting for. I agree with you about the future of Lindfield and Ku-ring-gai. This isn’t progress; it’s more like the Brave New World of Aldous Huxley: ‘You pays your money and you takes your choice’.” I added a postscript a day or two later: “I now remember the petition at the garage. I did sign it, and so did a lot of other residents of Lindfield. Unfortunately, the Council did nothing about it. Alas, this is what they call progress.” Well, Ku-ring-gai Council, I have to thank you for doing something about it, by taking on Arkibuilt Pty Limited in the Land and Environment Court, which led to a conciliation conference and the developer amending its application. But Arkibuilt refused to redesign the development to preserve and protect the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest; which resulted in the Court’s judgment. In other words, they brought this upon themselves. So Greg Doherty, Mrs Ducker and the residents of the units get a reprieve – at least for a while. I have a feeling the developers will come up with a way to get their application approved. We live in hope that will take a very long time.

3 thoughts on “Developers fail to see the forest for the trees

  1. And, since I’m working in Lindfield at the moment, I booked my car into Doherty’s for service next week. Thanks for the tip!

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