Trees culled for construction

Up to six trees along Exhibition and LaTrobe streets have been, or are in the process of being removed for tower construction.

In October 2015, a local resident noticed the removal of a tree on LaTrobe St. The resident contacted Hickory Group, the builder responsible for the removal.

Hickory Group said the tree was removed to accommodate construction deliveries and that a new tree would be reinstated upon completion. But, after one year and four months, it has not been replaced.

Hickory Group project manager Ben Turner said it was the City of Melbourne’s responsibility to replace the tree.

CBD News emailed the City of Melbourne about this but received no reply.

More recently, up to five plane trees along the west side of Exhibition St have been marked for removal, again to accommodate tower construction.

Residents 3000 vice president Sue Saunders contacted City of Melbourne’s urban forester Phillip Russell regarding the necessity of the removals, as the trees are located on the outer edge of the footpath, away from the construction site.

Mr Russell said that approval for tree removal was only granted once all options for their retention had been exhausted, as per the council’s tree retention and removal policy.

“In this instance the removal of the trees is required to facilitate the construction of a development at 80c Collins St,” Mr Russell said.

“Unfortunately, the requirements to maintain the cycleway and pedestrian access, which requires construction of a gantry, construction loading areas and traffic management requirements, have resulted in the necessity to remove trees.”

When questioned by Ms Saunders on why there was no consultation with residents before the decision to remove the trees, Mr Russell explained that, due to the size and complexity of construction, it was somewhat standard practice for residents to be left out of the conversation.

“The physical construction constraints in relation to this development resulted in the necessity for tree removal and were guided by construction management and traffic management requirements,” he said.

“These are not matters that residents are generally consulted on given the technical and industrial standards that must be adhered to (minimum road lane widths, height and location of protective gantries etc).”

Although the future of the trees is unknown, the passion our community has for their survival is certain.

Two summers ago, Ms Saunders was walking along the south side of Collins St and noticed a newly-planted tree, struggling in the heat.

Ms Saunders went into the nearest café and, after speaking with the owner, came to an agreement that the owner would water the tree everyday. That tree now stands taller and stronger than ever!

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