Chippy appears to know more about the ANZ carpark than …

Comment on Council will look at tree register and by-law by Mike Gillam.

Chippy appears to know more about the ANZ carpark than he is letting on. His patronizing blah blah blah and reference to little Town Like Alice are unlikely to gag this debate. Most people would understand that this issue concerns the future of tree protection generally and is not about bringing back those trees already removed.
Chippy uses the phrase “within reason” without explaining how this is possible with developers doing their own assessments. I sincerely hope he is right and we are all “pleasantly surprised” by the new landscaping / development.

Mike Gillam Also Commented

Council will look at tree register and by-law
Thanks for that Chippy, it must be my suspicious mind honed by too many years of observing developers.


Council will look at tree register and by-law
I’d like to add a comment to my previous: The two (not one old diseased etc) mature red gums that I refer to were, by conservative estimate, 30 years old as evidenced by counting the growth rings on the remaining stumps. This represents a significant investment that is now lost to the street. I’m happy to be challenged on the age of these trees and maybe the pro-chopper brigade can search the photographic archives and present their findings.
Most mature red gums could be described as ‘diseased’ and various ailments or ‘diseases’ may be carried periodically or permanently throughout their long lives of up to 400 years. I should also mention the twin trunks (perhaps 2 trees planted close together) of a younger red gum also situated on the edge of the Parsons Street boundary but closer to the river. This tree/s was probably between five and 10 years old when it was cut down – what a waste. You don’t have to be an arborist to know that these removals could have been staged to allow for improved landscaping if there had been genuine and compelling reasons to remove any or all of the red gums. And I can’t believe I am writing about another frying pan car-park in a treeless street at the start of a long hot summer. Talk about timing and anti-social behaviour, for that matter.


Council will look at tree register and by-law
The anonymous “Stumped” belittles the removal of the only trees in the 150 metre pedestrian zone extending from the west side of the mall all the way to the river in the east and misrepresents these trees in his description. He is quite right however to highlight the appalling management of red gums in the Todd River. As registered sacred sites these trees are protected by law but unfortunately that status does not magically prevent their destruction through neglect or malice. It’s not logical however to argue that land management failures in the Todd somehow prevents the Town Council from acting on behalf of the community to improve the protection of trees wherever they occur in the town area.
This should not be a competition between Government and private enterprise to see who can do the worst job of tree protection although the appearance of the town’s CBD does make me wonder on that score …
It’s hard to fathom how the removal of mature trees, arguably making the place even hotter and uglier, will help the cause of businesses that are already failing in the centre of town. Why perpetuate this stupidity any longer if we truly want to make Alice Springs a more comfortable and inspiring place to live or visit? Surely honourable developers have nothing to fear from improved assessment if they are acting to remove trees because they are “diseased” or “unsafe” or a threat to plumbing!?
In Parsons Street and the Mall, none of the privately owned land could be described as an island. Each block is connected to public services, roads, water and electricity to name a few. In a civil society developers should have reciprocal responsibilities. Each landowner shares the street with neighbours and relies on the wider community for support and patronage. Few developers can guarantee that the consequences of their actions are fully contained within their boundaries and will not impact adversely upon others.
For this reason governments at all levels should have over-arching responsibility to consider the broader implications to society – planning schemes and heritage legislation are examples of this. For argument’s sake let’s refer to this basic ideal as good governance and vision – and yes, I know these principles appear to lie conspicuously dormant much of the time.
In many jurisdictions good governance extends to tree protection by-laws and the employment of an arborist/s. In Alice Springs we have neither despite the great significance of trees and tree communities in the townscape. We hide behind sacred sites legislation that provides limited protection to many important trees in the town area but does not extend to all significant trees, notably those that have been planted. This means that most trees within the Alice Springs CBD are not actually protected by law and they can be removed with little or no justification at the urging of a council worker, a plumber or an accountant.
Take a good look around. There is little sense of design in the placement and selection of street trees throughout the town centre and some locations are devoid of trees. The eastern end of Parsons Street now shares this dubious honour with that stretch of Gregory Tce between Todd and Hartley. Walking through the mall it’s a challenge to find continuous shade and garden beds scream of neglect.
The point of this debate was two red gums in the ANZ carpark located approximately 8 metres from the nearest building and within 2 metres of the actual footpath. The placement of these trees on the edge of private land meant they also served as de facto ‘street trees’ and contributed to the amenity of an otherwise barren street. A Town Council arborist could have provided advice on root barriers or the pruning of hazardous limbs if the concerns of the owners were genuine and they were more interested in finding solutions than removing trees.
If it’s absolutely necessary to remove trees, at least the public will know a balanced decision has been made. In that event trees might be removed in stages to allow some strategic re-planting as suggested by Brendan Meney. I can only hope the days of the selfish developer supported by lazy and obsequious governments are numbered. Unfortunately any shift towards greater corporate responsibility, real leadership and a change of heart in the CBD will come too late to save further small businesses from ruin.


Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Melanka building would obscure unequalled backdrop
While I broadly support the views of the writer, I’d like to correct what is clearly a typo.
The building height limit in the CBD is 14 m. not 8.5m, and for the record, I won’t be making a submission to the NT Planning Commission, a Statutory Authority advising the NT Government on planning matters including building heights in Alice Springs because I don’t regard the public consultation process as genuine.
Recent calls by the Chief Minister for expressions of interest in the development of land at Whittaker Street, just outside the western boundary of the CBD and in an area with a LOWER height limit, makes a mockery of this public consultation.
The artist’s impression shows a building that dramatically exceeds the stated limit for this area, from memory, not even 14 m but currently 8.5m.
Of course, the nature of legislation, regulations and town plans may be subject to the extraordinary powers granted to the responsible Minister who can always find some justification.
In closing I would give credit to the NT Planning Commission for its recognition of the value of protecting some critical east west sight-lines across the CBD.
However the town’s future shape and collective massing of buildings will be determined to a large extent by the uncoordinated actions of individual developers and politicians in the decades ahead.
Ultimately this is a game of chance and DESIGN, that elusive collective vision for Alice Springs, appears to be taking a back seat in the process. As a struggling tourist town we can and should do much better.


Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema
At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.


A funny thing happened to me on the way to the tip …
Delightfully zany, elegant, rigorously conceived and resolved, an asset to the landfill and the town. Congratulations to the artist for her uncompromising effort and those on the Town Council who placed their faith in her and dared to make this happen. I hope the obvious quality of this public art has raised the confidence of decision makers and they feel vindicated to do it again with equal rigour. Perhaps in time, as the town’s artistic side is further highlighted and revealed we may regain some of our reputation as a tourist mecca.


Dancers take over after dark
Not denying there is an equivalent need for the hard core stories but surely this is the Alice Springs News at its very best.I’m kicking myself for missing the event.


Residency is at risk, says heritage group
Hal, where to start…If you peddle misinformation some readers might hyperventilate. But I think you’re ignoring the elephant in the room here…no-one likes their time being wasted and that’s how I feel trying to unravel your torrent of opinion and innuendo. Time prevents me from responding to more of your posts. It’s not simply that you distort reality by describing The Residency as “…current inactive state…” or that it’s preposterous and insulting to say, “Have you considered that Heritage Alice Springs’ dogmatic approach to these matters contributed to the Old Riverside not being given Heritage listing?” What an outrageous example of shoot the messenger by some-one who has not seen the nomination by HAS. But wait there’s more, “…I often think the heritage crowd exceed their brief…” Really? They’re the main reason you can cite the example of the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at its fantastic heritage location. And again, “…We don’t have very many buildings worth listing. Too many tin sheds, and who really cares…” Your regard for vernacular architecture including sheds is out of step with rising national interest and ignores much of the development history of Alice Springs.
PS Re. leasing the Residency for use as a cafe, I reiterate the issue of onsite car-parking. From memory, 6 parks are required for every 100m2 of net floor area and any alfresco dining areas – so I’m guessing this site would have to at least double the existing parks – this reasonable condition may be waived by the Minister BUT it’s in the best commercial interests of cafe owners to provide viable parking to lessen the impact on the street during periods of peak trade. And no, the idea that a new venture would be allowed to free-load on existing public car-parking is unlikely to win much support. The RFDS has it all, why try to replicate that experience with less at the Residency?


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