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Mr Farmer, please stop destruction of the Peninsula

This is an open letter to Central Coast Council chief executive Mr David Farmer.

Please explain why you have signed off on this ongoing destruction of our suburbs.

It is with much concern that I write this letter today.

I live in the Peninsula area of Umina Beach where we are suffering a disturbing amount of tree loss.

This area has already been identified with studies commissioned by Council revealing the urban heat effect making the Peninsula a dangerous place to live.

Your vision for a "walkable neighbourhood" is documented in your speech to the Urban Design Institute of Australia.

This vision is to be commended but you need to understand what we are up against.

You said: "One of the things I'd like to focus on is creating walkable neighbourhoods where you can do many of the things in your life without having to get in the car."

A neighbourhood cannot be walkable if there are no trees to offer shade and reduce heat.

It will be too hot to walk on our feet, with a pram or with a walker.

We will need to get in our cars to go to a park or go shopping.

A 20-year-old native street tree has been removed from 139 Barrenjoey Rd, Ettalong, the only remaining street tree for six blocks (half a kilometre).

The only shade offered along this walkway comes from trees within properties because, once upon a time, setbacks allowed for trees.

I checked the development application DA/63670/2021.

The Statement of Environmental Effects mentions tree retention and no adverse impact on the environment.

In the Public Assessment report, it states at 6.6: "The proposal will not impact any threatened species or significant vegetation as part of the proposed works."

The redacted plans state that the street tree will be relocated but It was cut down to ground level on May 21.

In the Public Consent, you have signed off on its removal.

We should not be removing any street trees unless they are a threat or dead.

The threat to our local native trees in properties or on streets is occurring almost daily, despite the applications all claiming that there will be no detrimental effect to the environment.

Developers are given letters of consent to remove all vegetation as long as they put in replacements.

A 25-litre potted tree is no replacement for a 20-50 year old tree.

Why are you signing off on this destruction making our suburb unliveable and unwalkable?

Imagine in summer, no shade tree for four blocks. Is that walkable in the heat of summer?

The current strategic plan for the Peninsula as implemented through the Development Control Plan and associated Character Statements purports to protect and encourage "leafy gardens" in all medium density developments and zones on the Peninsula.

It is clear in these documents that the retention of shade trees on the Peninsula is a high priority.

However, a council assessment officer has told us publicly that these documents are "only a guideline" and, in effect, can routinely be ignored.

God help us!

The Development Control Plan is a substantial 700-page document that has taken a lot of thought and money to prepare.

Why go to all this trouble, at ratepayers' expense, if it is meaningless?

Mr Farmer, please ensure your assessment planners are implementing the strategic plan for the Peninsula as adopted through the Development Control Plan and the Character Statements.

These documents say that street trees and substantial shade trees, including boundary trees, must be retained and that "leafy gardens" should be a feature of all future developments.

Non-compliant setbacks leave no room for deep soil or room for anything other than token landscaping.

This makes a mockery of the strategic objectives.

Mr Farmer, please hold your planners to higher, best practice, standards. Legal minimums are not enough.

Over-developers are trashing the Peninsula.

Please help us put a stop to this.

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