Why is this being proposed?
Council and many community members have long been concerned about the loss of trees within the City, and the negative effects this can have on the environment, climate and the amenity of the City’s neighbourhoods. In 2017, Council adopted an Urban Forest Plan with the objective of increasing Fremantle's comparatively low tree canopy cover to 20% by 2027. Many of the actions to achieve this target relate to planting new trees in verges and parks but protection of existing trees is equally important. Some trees are also particularly significant and warrant special protection.
The proposed approach seeks to balance the City’s genuine desire to promote protection of trees, particularly those of most significance, with the expectations of property owners and the administrative and legal limitations of local government.
What are the criteria for including trees or vegetation areas on the Register and how are they nominated?
The proposed process for initial nomination and inclusion on the Register has 4 steps:
Under the proposed policy trees or vegetation areas must be nominated by, or formally supported by, the owner of the land on which it is located. It must also be a healthy specimen with ongoing viability (i.e. have every chance of a long and healthy life ahead of it).
The reasons for these two inclusions are:
Trees nominated without the support of the landowner can become sources of significant conflict and in some instances the nomination itself can prompt removal prior to registration as a pre-emptive action.
Inclusion of trees unlikely to survive long-term or likely to conflict with infrastructure tend to require a high level of administration, taking staff time and resources away from activities such as protection of trees with longer term prospects, or inclusion of new trees.
The proposed approach seeks to balance the City’s genuine desire to promote protection of trees, particularly those of most significance, with the expectations of property owners and the administrative and legal limitations of local government. Achieving the ‘right’ balance is likely to be quite subjective but considering all of these aspects is important in achieving a sound outcome.
The proposed policy outlines the criteria a tree or vegetation area nominated for inclusion on the Register must meet in order to be supported. It requires demonstration of significance based on:
Botanic / horticultural value;
Visual / aesthetic / landmark value;
Ecological value not otherwise protected through environmental legislation.
Note: The City will not be calling for nominations until after it has formalised the policy on what criteria nominations will be assessed against. This is important to ensure consistent assessment and clarity on the City’s intentions and approach. Nominations are not being sought now, and any received will be deferred pending finalisation of the draft policy. In the future the City proposes to consider requests for nomination or removal from the Register once per year. A nomination form would need to be completed and lodged (a draft Procedure and Nomination Form is appended to the draft policy).
The City will undertake an assessment of nominated trees and vegetation areas in accordance with the criteria. This may include the commission of an independent arboricultural report. To assess ongoing viability, consideration may be given to development potential of the site and prospects of retention in future development, proximity to or impact on buildings/ infrastructure, proximity to boundary and impact on neighbouring property, root structure and attributes of the plant and its propensity to be affected by changes to the environment outside the lot boundaries (eg development on neighbouring land). Assessments may be deferred to align with annual reporting.
The City will provide the assessment to the landowner and occupier of the place (if applicable) and invite comment from them and immediately adjacent neighbours for a period of 21 days.
Report to Council
A report on the nominated trees and vegetation areas and public submissions received will be submitted to Council annually (generally between February and April) for a decision on their inclusion on the Register.
What are the current planning requirements?
The City currently only lists trees already included on its Heritage List on the Register of Significant Trees and Vegetation Areas. Removal of trees on private land in the City is therefore permitted ‘as of right’ in most circumstances (though state and federal environmental controls might apply in some instances).
Tree retention is strongly encouraged and concessions may be available to enable retention of a tree on a development site, but unless formally included on the Register, there is little the City can do to prevent removal where a landowner wishes to do so. Inclusion of increased areas for new tree planting on development sites has been a focus for planning policy development. This may not fully address the benefits of maintaining mature trees although this is incentivised to a certain extent.
How the City will consider development applications received for a property containing a tree or vegetation area on the Register?
The second part of the policy deals with how the City will consider any development application received for a property containing a tree or vegetation already included on the Register. This includes a presumption against any works likely to harm the tree, but acknowledges that in some instances, works or even removal may be appropriate. These include where the tree / vegetation presents a threat to safety or infrastructure and all other avenues to address this have proven to be unfeasible. The onus rests with the landowner to demonstrate that they have investigated other alternatives and that removal is the only viable option.
The policy also recommends application of the Australian Standards for protection of trees on site where development works are occurring around a tree or vegetation included on the register.
How can I find out more?
If you have any questions, please contact Phillida Rodic or Sam Moss on 9432 9999 or email email@example.com
The City is also holding two information sessions where planning staff will be available to answer any questions you may have regarding the draft policy and change to the heritage list. Please note that these information sessions will not feature any formal presentation, you can ‘drop in’ anytime during the session to discuss the draft policy with City planning staff.
Tuesday 13 November 2018, North Fremantle Community Hall: Visit any time between 5.00pm – 6.30pm
Thursday 22 November 2018, Wanjoo Lounge and Multipurpose Room, City of Fremantle Administration Building, Fremantle Oval, 70 Parry St Fremantle. Visit any time between 5.00pm – 6.30pm.