pathway middle green leafed trees with sun shining through branches

Editorial

Hotops Rise tree removal review

April 6 2021 by Peter Hansby

Hotops Rise tree removal review

 

Trees are an important part of every community.   They increase our quality of life, contribute to our environmental health and provide a peaceful and beautiful setting for everyone to enjoy.  Our district is no exception and we know that trees are a great source of pride for our local community.  

Which is why it is not surprising to hear concerns raised from the community when trees are proposed to be removed. 

If you’ve been in the town centre recently, you’ll know that construction is well underway on our town centre street upgrades.   More specifically if you’ve wandered along Hotops Rise you would have seen that a large number of trees have ribbons tied around them indicating their possible removal to make way for an improved walking and cycle path.

The removal of some trees in that location has been earmarked for a couple of years now.  In March 2019 we received design drawings for the new shared cycle and pedestrian path which will provide a key link and make it far safer and more enjoyable to walk, cycle and use other non-motorised transport options.  At the time we shared these drawings with a range of people for feedback and the general consensus was that while it was a shame to lose some trees in the area, most of them were Douglas Fir or in poor health, and the reasons for doing so were acceptable.  

In 2020 it was a boost to the project to receive $35m from the Government’s Crown Infrastructure Partners ‘Shovel Ready’ Fund to progress the town centre street upgrades.  This is where we get to the pointy end.  We had a shared path design that was acceptable to the community but the reality is, design drawings are just lines on paper.  It’s not until you move in to construction and get people on the ground that you really understand the implications and benefits of a project. 

The Hotops Rise shared path upgrade is no exception.  We took our construction experts and arborist down to the site and it quickly became apparent that when we start removing trees, the root structure and safety of other trees is affected.  The knock on effect of this is significant and would result in an extensive number of trees needing to be removed from this area, vastly changing the way it looks and feels.   We were as surprised as you are and quickly began conversations with the local Friends of the Gardens group and our wider team about where to next. 

Following those conversations we have committed to looking at options for redesigning the path to reduce the impact on the neighbouring trees.  For this reason, our construction team has stopped work on Hotops Rise and we’ll come back to the community when we know more. 

- Peter Hansby