Exceptional trees protected

This English oak tree is one of eight on private land in the CBD to be included on a new Exceptional Tree Register.

The register came about at the instigation of Cr Cathy Oke who, in 2008, was asked to assist some South Yarra residents who were concerned about the potential loss of some neighbourhood trees.

Cr Oke told the November 11 Future Melbourne Committee that, at that time, there was no planning mechanism to protect trees on private property.

“Now at least we can respond when asked what are we doing to preserve trees on private property – that we do have an Exceptional Tree Register,” Cr Oke said.

An amendment to the Melbourne Planning Scheme (C212) is likely to be approved by the Minister for Planning to protect the trees following an extensive examination by a special panel of 288 nominated trees throughout the municipality.

Trees were adjudged “exceptional” on 13 broad criteria including environmental and heritage factors. 

In all, 132 trees made it onto the register. The newly-listed oak tree is at the rear of the heritage-listed shop at the corner of King and LaTrobe streets.

While the owner of the property shared no opinion with the planning panel, a neighbour objected to the listing, fearing that it would make it more difficult to develop their land in the future.

In a submission to the panel, Sophie Gioutlou and Co Lawyers claimed the tree’s proximity to Flagstaff Gardens mitigated any environmental significance it may have.

The neighbour also said the tree had caused and continued to cause substantial damage to its property.

The panel rejected these arguments and recommended the tree be added to the register.  The panel advised the neighbour: 

“Pruning of overhanging branches and cleaning gutters is normal practice in maintaining any property.”

Other CBD trees to be added are: A honey locust at 607 Bourke St; A pear tree at 621-633 Bourke St; Three plane trees at 36 Collins St; A frangipani at 116 Ltl Lonsdale St; and A European olive at 118 Lonsdale St.

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