"The likely destruction in the new year of 83 significant and regulated trees from the Glenside Health Campus is unnecessary, premature and against community wishes," according to Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader of the Greens SA.
The land, situated on Fullarton Road at Glenside and currently accommodating a government mental health facility, is set to have all non-heritage buildings and the 83 trees demolished shortly. The decision is expected to be made by the State Government-appointed Development Assessment Commission in January. There have been numerous public objections but there are no appeal rights.
When announcing the sale of the Glenside land to property developer, Cedar Woods earlier this year, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Stephen Mullighan, boasted of "extensive community consultation, which highlighted the importance of retaining significant trees and open space." Now we see that 83 significant and regulated trees will be destroyed, simply to "prepare the site" for a future housing development that is yet to be approved.
"So much for the government listening to the community," said Mark Parnell.
"A major concern about the clearance of this many trees at this time is that it may turn out to be excessive and unnecessary, given that the final layout of apartments hasn't been approved.
"If the apartments turn out to be uneconomic or if the bottom falls out of the market, then the destruction of the trees will have been in vain. We will have destroyed a beautiful park for no reason.
"A far better approach would be to wait until the whole package of development is ready and then decide how to proceed, keeping as many trees and as much open space as possible.
"Property developer Cedar Woods Properties is yet to lodge final plans for its housing estate or to indicate a start date for development on the site. The Masterplan for the site states that the significant and regulated trees were 'a landmark feature of the site, as well as providing amenity'. Now, they want to chop down 83 of them.
"The debate over rezoning Glenside was contentious, but now it has been earmarked for housing, the onus is on the Government to ensure that as much amenity as possible is retained. The large trees and open space are critical to preserving the character of the site," concluded Mark Parnell.