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Mayor’s update on 28 Sturt Road, Brighton
Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson responds to community questions raised about 28 Sturt Road, Brighton.
I wish to provide some important information around the circumstances attributable to this property, and council’s involvement from a very early stage in trying to get the best outcome for its community without abrogating its legislative responsibilities as the development assessment agency for the site.
The council has been proactive in seeking to protect as many trees as possible on the site through its initial efforts in undertaking an immediate audit of the vegetation on the land on 15 April 2020. This provided an accurate record of the ‘Regulated’ and ‘Significant’ trees on the site, many of which enjoy added protection on the basis of their species as well.
The inventory of the trees, their location, and their protection status, were supplied to the prospective developer along with advice as to the importance of the unbroken stands of vegetation (or corridors), particularly along the northern and eastern property boundaries.
In this regard, council made it clear at the earliest opportunity that any future development application that involved the removal of single trees will need to have regard not only to the integrity of the trees individually, but also to their significance as part of a collective.
The developer was formally advised to consider a retention strategy for the trees as part of any ongoing scoping for the most appropriate use of the land, as many of the trees identified as being either ‘Regulated’ or ‘Significant’ were healthy, with few grounds for removal. This proactive intervention occurred prior to the receipt of a development application for the land.
Upon receipt of a later development application for the removal of eleven (11) ‘Regulated’ and ‘Significant’ trees from the site, council commissioned a more forensic assessment of each tree by an independent arborist, which was completed on 27 July 2020.
This report made recommendations to retain many of the trees otherwise proposed for removal by the developers in their application. Again, council made the developer aware that the application to remove the trees could not be supported and that a report would be made to the Council Assessment Panel seeking a decision consistent with the independent arborist’s recommendation. Council is awaiting advice from the developer as to whether the application is to be withdrawn or amended.
For accuracy, there are nine (9) trees that have been identified as ‘Regulated’ and twelve (12) trees that have been identified as ‘Significant’ on the land. The terms ‘Regulated’ and ‘Significant’ tree were revised via the Development (Regulated Trees) Variation Regulations 2011, which granted limited protection to ‘Regulated’ trees with a trunk circumference of between two (2) to three (3) metres measure one (1) metre from the base, and ‘Significant’ trees with a trunk circumference in excess of three (3) metres measure one (1) metre from the base.
Council also received a separate land division application for the site showing the site divided into 28 allotments. The land division, in its current form, is contingent on whether the developer is permitted to remove all the trees from the site, so the decision on the application to remove the trees is critical to the overall development’s fate.
The developer has been advised by council that in its current form, the land division cannot be supported as it displays too many non-compliances with the Holdfast Bay Development Plan.
Council is awaiting the developer’s response, which will involve either withdrawing the application or making variations to address the non-compliances, including allotment size and density, removal of vegetation, location and design of internal roads. It should be noted that council has not received a land use application to date, meaning there is no reliable indication as to the future architecture or scale of dwellings envisaged for the site.
Regarding the homestead on the site, it does not enjoy heritage protection. Although the property was recommended for Local Heritage listing by council in 2001, it was ultimately excluded from the final list after consideration of the landowner’s objection by the State Local Heritage Advisory Committee, which resolved to remove the property from the list of Local Heritage Places in the Local Heritage Plan Amendment Report. Another bid to list the property in 2008 also failed.
I understand that Heritage SA is presently considering a community-led nomination to have the property included in the State Heritage Register. The council does not oppose this nomination and has provided resources to help inform the submission, although it cannot take a formal position of advocacy due to its conflicted role as the development assessment authority.
It should be noted that the demolition of a non-heritage listed property must be approved under the Development Act 1993, although the council is working closely with Heritage SA to ensure if any such application was received, that information is shared to enable interim protection whilst the merits of the heritage listing were being considered.
As such, the council has not remained idle on this matter, intervening at the earliest possible stage to help protect the trees on the site, which has been instrumental in ensuring that both the totality of trees and the homestead remain intact to date.