Tree plea for WAPC

WITH trees being clearfelled for subdivisions across the city, Bayswater council is calling on the WA Planning Commission to help stop suburban deforestation.

This week Bayswater councillor Giorgia Johnson tabled a notice of motion requesting their CEO write to the WAPC to retain “worthy” trees when land is subdivided.

The city hopes the new rule can be included in the WAPC’s subdivision guidelines, which are currently being reviewed.

It could be tricky to implement, but deputy mayor Chris Cornish said one solution would be for the WAPC to treat tree removal as “development”, so you couldn’t do it without getting approval first.

This would prevent someone from clearing their block ahead of seeking approval.

In June last year the council brought in new rules for residential projects valued over $100,000, requiring anyone developing a block to provide at least one “standard tree” (at least four metres tall) for every 350sqm.

The requirements are relaxed if the owner retains existing mature trees (if you kept a particularly impressive old tree, it’d reduce the total you had to provide by two, encouraging people not to clear a block moments before submitting an application).

But that rule doesn’t apply to anyone subdividing their block, as subdivisions are handled at a higher level of government by the WAPC.

That meant that in 2016 the privately-owned block next to the Bayswater wetlands was able to be legally clearfelled to make way for the Skipper’s Row housing subdivision.

The WAPC had given the subdivision approval, and even Bayswater council staff were caught off guard when bulldozers showed up and trees were knocked down.

by DAVID BELL

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