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Rosebank Road, Avondale, Oak tree and Pohutukawa

MEDIA RELEASE - for immediate release, 21 November 2012

Rosebank Road, Avondale, Oak tree and Pohutukawa.

The Tree Council is pleased to report that a protracted and messy battle for the life of two remarkable trees in Rosebank Road, Avondale is finally over - and that both trees will be added to Auckland Council’s schedule of notable trees. Unfortunately The Tree Council’s late Chair Sigrid Shayer did not live to see the final result of this battle. However we are comforted that the trees will continue to live on in her memory, recalling how Sigrid fought so tirelessly to save them, at the very time she was battling for her own life.

Back in late 2009 The Tree Council learnt of a resource consent application by Connell Place Ltd (CPL) seeking removal of a Pohutukawa at 317-321 Rosebank Road, Avondale. At an Auckland Council hearing of this non-notified application in February 2010, CPL put forward an alternative application, whereby the Pohutukawa was still to be removed, but they offered to covenant the Oak tree, with certain work allowed within its root zone. The Hearing Commissioner granted this application, without calling for a new resource consent application.

Incensed by this process, on the 5th March The Tree Council filed ”judicial review proceedings” in the High Court seeking a “declaration that the Decision was invalid, an order quashing the Decision and an injunction restraining CPL from removing or damaging the tree”.

CPL then agreed to surrender that part of its resource consent which provided for the removal of the tree in exchange for The Tree Council withdrawing its proceedings. Part of the obligations on CPL arising from that decision was that The Tree Council were to be notified of any subsequent resource consent application to remove the Pohutukawa.

This new application duly arrived and The Tree Council wrote a submission advocating refusal of consent for the tree’s removal. We attended the Hearing of this application on 12th November 2010. The decision was that consent to remove the Pohutukawa be refused. CPL promptly appealed this decision to the Environment Court.

At the same time this was all happening it was decided that both the Oak and the Pohutukawa should be put forward as additions to the Schedule of Notable Trees within the Auckland Council District Plan (Isthmus Section). The Tree Council and dedicated people from the Avondale area remarkably gathered together over

1100+ petition signatures supporting addition of these two trees to the Schedule and the petition was presented to Council. The Tree Council and many supporters submitted to the Plan Change for addition of these two trees to the Schedule, and attended a Hearing on 2nd May 2011. It was decided by the Council that both the Pohutukawa and the Oak should be added to the Schedule of Notable Trees. CPL then lodged a further appeal of this decision with the Environment Court.

While these two cases were slowly grinding their way through the Environment Court process CPL put together two development schemes for the site on which the Oak and Pohutukawa trees grow. The Tree Council was able to participate in two meetings with Auckland Council and CPL about these development proposals and to express our views on aspects of the development that we considered compromised the future health and viability of the trees.

Earlier this month, CPL gained resource consent to progress its development plans to building consent stage. Therefore CPL have now withdrawn their appeal seeking removal of the Pohutukawa and their appeal against addition of the two trees to the Schedule of Notable Trees in the Auckland Council District Plan (Isthmus Section).

The Tree Council is pleased that this long and protracted dispute has finally been settled. Unwillingness by the developer to consider the greater amenity value the trees could offer the Rosebank Road neighbourhood if they could be seen more readily, and to re-design the site accordingly, is still very disappointing to The Tree Council. However, our experts worked very hard to get a result that is in the best long term interests of the trees sitting within the modified development plan.

The Tree Council would like all members of the public who worked so hard for the retention of these trees to continue keeping their eyes on the site to see that both trees are treated well and appropriately. Let us know if this is not the case. Our thanks for all your support over the past 3 years – we could not have done it without you.

Our sincere thanks go to our environmental lawyers Cowper Campbell for their guidance through this long and fraught process and to our experts, (arborist, planner and landscape architect) who also worked so hard on this issue.


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