Out on a limb to save tuart tree in Padbury

The tuart on Gibson Avenue.
The tuart on Gibson Avenue.

A LARGE tree on a vacant lot in Padbury has been saved for now.

The tuart tree on the eastern boundary of 77 Gibson Avenue was the centre of much discussion at last Tuesday’s Joondalup council meeting.

During public advertising of the proposed land sale, the City received 15 submissions with many requesting a large tuart tree be protected from future site development and be included on the City’s significant tree register.

An independent arborist assessed the tree and determined because of its “degraded form and below average wall thickness of the trunk”, it should not be included on the register and recommended it be removed.

“As a safety precaution, it is the usual practice of the City to schedule removal of trees in this condition,” a council document said.

At the September 8 briefing, Cr John Chester disagreed with the report and asked if another independent assessment could be done.

“We’ve got independent expert advice from a qualified arborist – it’s not internal staff advice – and it says the wall thickness of the trunk is not found to be adequate thickness to support the tree long-term and decay and hollowing is evident,” Joondalup chief executive Garry Hunt said.

“The issue for me is, if this drops on a child, I’m the one that fronts up to the hearing.”

However, another assessment was done the week before the meeting, which Mr Hunt said was inconclusive.

“We followed it up based on advice from several arborists that a PiCUS Sonic Tomograph test was the most effective way to check the health of the tree,” he said.

The test found the tree was “structurally sound… and in very good condition”.

“The central column of decay is likely to have negligible effect on the failure potential of the tree and no immediate works were recommended at present,” Mr Hunt said.

Cr Mike Norman, who is up for re-election, moved an amendment to “strongly encourage” the buyer of the land to retain the tree.

“It’s close to the boundary so there is the possibility it could be retained as part of the site development,” he said.

He said keeping the tree was important because Gibson Avenue was “relatively treeless” and birds used its hollows.

“If I had my choice, I would be mandating that large tuart be retained. However, we’ve already had that debate and I’m hoping the developer really will take this on board, understand the community need to retain this tree and include it in some landscaping along Gibson Avenue,” he said.

Several community members attended the meeting to encourage council to keep the tree or not sell the land, citing concerns of biodiversity being destroyed, the loss of habitat for lizards, birds and insects, reducing the area’s canopy cover and increasing urban heating, which could affect public health and wellbeing.

Councillors approved the sale of land to The Stephens Group for $2.14 million with 11 votes to one.

Cr Brian Corr said the City “should not be selling green open space for development”.

Councillors also voted 11 to one to sell 103 Caridean Street in Heathridge to Conway Projects for $920,000.

Funds from the sale of both sites will go to Joondalup performing arts centre. The land will be used for aged persons housing with developments subject to further applications.