Item 13 IR2/18 Draft Amendments Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013 - Tree and Vegetation Preservation............................................................................................................... 1
Deputy General Manager's Report No. IR2/18
Infrastructure and Recreation Division
Date of Meeting: 14/02/2018
13 DRAFT AMENDMENTS HORNSBY DEVELOPMENT CONTROL PLAN 2013 - TREE AND VEGETATION PRESERVATION
· In December 2017, Council resolved to exhibit draft changes to Section 1.B.6 Tree and Vegetation Preservation and 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation of the Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013 (HDCP).
· The exhibition process included public notices published in weekly editions of local newspapers, information published on Council’s website and information distributed via Council’s e-News, and displays at Council’s administration centre and all libraries. Local newspapers also ran specific articles regarding the proposal.
· 132 submissions were received with 120 of those in support of the major change being, in general terms, to protect all species except those listed as exempt considering their undesirable characteristics.
· Those submissions in support of the change raised the environmental and amenity benefits of trees and anticipated more trees would be preserved.
· Those submissions opposed to changing the controls raised concerns about overregulation, property owners seeking to have more control over their trees and the controls having the consequence of discouraging people to plant new trees.
· It is recommended that Council adopt the amendments to Section 1.B.6 Tree and Vegetation Preservation, 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation and the addition of Section 1.B.7 Tree and Vegetation Preservation within the City of Parramatta LGA (land formerly part of Hornsby LGA) of the Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013 (HDCP) shown in Attachment 3.
1. Endorse the revised draft Tree and Vegetation Preservation controls attached to Deputy General Manager’s Report No. IR2/18 for insertion in the Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013.
2. Notify all those who lodged a submission of Council’s decision.
3. Authorise the preparation of guidance material to support the amended tree preservation provisions.
The purpose of this Report is to provide the results of the public exhibition and recommendations for proposed changes to Section 1.B.6 Tree and Vegetation Preservation and 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation of the Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013 (HDCP).
These amendments are aimed at strengthening Hornsby Shire’s tree protection measures and include housekeeping amendments as a result of the introduction of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Services Act 2013.
At the December 2017 General Meeting, Council considered Deputy General Manager’s Report No. IR19/17 (Attachment 1) and resolved to exhibit the proposed amendment to HDCP during the period 20 December 2017 and 26 January 2018. A report on submissions was to be presented for Council’s consideration at the earliest opportunity.
Since 2011, the approach has been to protect tree species native to Hornsby Shire; all trees located on land within a heritage conservation area, or on land containing a heritage item. This approach has meant exotic trees, and Australian native trees not naturally occurring in the Shire can be removed without the need for Council approval.
The recently exhibited amendments to the DCP propose, in simple terms, to reinstate the approach that existed prior to 2011 which has the effect of protecting all tree species other than those listed as exempt (which include species considered weeds, or hazardous to people or property).
Section 1.B.6 Tree and Vegetation Preservation and 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation of HDCP was publicly exhibited from 21 December 2017 to 26 January 2018 (37 days). The exhibition process was conducted in accordance with Clause 18 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation (2000) and involved:
· Public notices published in multiple editions of local newspapers
· Notification on Council’s website
· Displays at Council’s Administration Centre and all public libraries
· Distribution of material via Council’s eNews (35,000 contacts)
Results of submissions
There were 132 submissions received during the exhibition period. 120 of these submissions were in support of the proposed changes with a number of relatively minor amendments proposed regarding tree management. A summary of submissions and the response from Council officers is contained in Attachment 2.
Those in favour of the HDCP amendments anticipate more trees will be preserved under the proposal, noting the removal of trees in recent years together with an increase in the rate of new development. They also cited a range of environmental and amenity benefits of trees noting the protection of native fauna, provision of shade, improved water / air quality and general social well-being. This includes the benefits provided by exotic tree species as well local indigenous species.
Some submissions raised concerns that the HDCP was confusing and more information needed to be provided to guide people. It must be remembered that the HDCP forms part of the legislation and is not itself designed to be a comprehensive guide for all matters regarding tree management. Notwithstanding, if the HDCP amendments are adopted, Council officers will review and update all relevant tree information on Council’s website aimed at assisting and providing guidance for residents for all tree related matters.
Those opposed to the change from the current controls raised concerns about overregulation, property owners seeking to have more control over their trees that were dangerous. They felt the changes proposed would deter them from planting trees for fear Council would refuse them to be removed in the future.
Responses from residents in the rural areas were particularly concerned that consideration needed to be given to the fact that they had planted many trees in the past and felt they deserved greater flexibility should they seek to construct ancillary sheds or driveways near trees.
A small number of submissions sought to include Liquidambar trees as a species that should be exempt from protection as they consider them to be fast growing and their roots can impact structures. Residents will be able to submit a Tree Permit Application and Council officers can condition replacement trees where trees are clearly damaging a dwelling or structure. Other species were also nominated for exemption such as Jacarandas.
Some comments were also provided raising concerns that Camphor Laurels and Cocos Palms should not be made exempt. In preparing the species exemption list Council officers considered weed species and human health status of each tree as well as the species exemption lists for all adjoining councils.
A number of submissions highlighted the benefits of hollows for the protection of native fauna including endangered species. These matters are adequately considered as part of the Council Officer’s assessment of applications.
Some submissions were concerned that the changes to the HDCP would remove the 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlements exposing greater threat to bushfires. This is not the case. Alternatively, some comments were received suggesting that Council should seek to curb the impact of the 10/50 clearing entitlements. The provisions of the HDCP are not able to overrule the existing 10/50 vegetation clearing entitlements.
The draft Tree and Vegetation Preservation controls have been revised to respond to the submissions and these are reflected in Attachment 3. Council officers have also made further minor amendments which reference State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017.
The City of Parramatta submission
At the moment, the HDCP applies to land formerly within the Hornsby LGA and now located within the newly expanded City of Parramatta LGA (CoP). This situation will be retained until such time as the CoP establishes a new LEP.
In July 2017, the CoP endorsed the exhibition of amendments to Section 1.B.6.1 Tree and Vegetation Preservation and 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation of HCDP (as it relates to the former Hornsby LGA lands only). The exhibition period commenced in October and concluded 17 November 2017. At the time of preparing this report, the matter had not been presented to the Council of the CoP for consideration.
The CoP has provided a submission and seeks that a new Section titled 1B.7 Tree and Vegetation Preservation within the City of Parramatta LGA (Land formerly part of Hornsby LGA) be included in the HDCP as an interim measure. This section would retain the existing provisions of Section 1.B.6.1 and 1.B.6.2 (re-titled 1.B.7.1 and 1.B.7.2), until which time the CoP adopt its own amendments to replace same.
These changes are supported and contained in Attachment 3.
In preparing the exhibited DCP amendment, internal stakeholders such as arborists, planners, and ecologists were consulted. The DCPs of the adjoining Council areas (City of Parramatta, City of Ryde, The Hills and Ku-ring-gai Councils) were also reviewed.
If the amendments are adopted, additional tree applications will be received which will warrant the employment of at least one additional tree officer within the Tree Management Team and other resources may be required to address unauthorised tree clearing. The budgetary impact will be provided through the quarterly review process but could be as much as $200,000 per annum. Some of this may be recouped, in-part, from additional income received through application fees and revenue from penalties.
The report discusses and recommends proposed changes to the HDCP following the completion of the public exhibition period.
Managing trees in urban areas offers a number of challenges associated with:
· Maintaining tree canopy coverage while accommodating increased urbanisation
· Managing risk
· Managing public perceptions and education of residents as to the value of trees.
These issues can polarise community views which is reflected in the comments received in the submissions.
It is considered that the exhibited HDCP amendments, inclusive of changes made in response to the submissions received, appropriately balances Council’s desire to strengthen the tree protection measures together with resident concerns regarding overregulation. It is therefore recommended that Section 1.B.6 Tree and Vegetation Preservation and 1.B.6.2 Vegetation Preservation of the HDCP contained in Attachment 3 be adopted.
Should Council agree to adopt these changes, the HDCP amendments will come into effect on 22 February 2018, following public notices being published in local newspapers.
A communication strategy will be developed to inform the community about the changes. Council’s tree management webpage will also be updated with information that will assist residents in interpreting and understanding the tree regulations and the most recent changes.
The officer responsible for the preparation of this Report is the Manager, Parks and Recreation – David Sheils - who can be contacted on 9847 6792.
Manager - Parks and Recreation
Infrastructure and Recreation Division
Deputy General Manager - Infrastructure and Recreation
Infrastructure and Recreation Division
Attachment 1 to IR2/18 - Draft Amendments Hornsby Development Control Plan 2013 - Tree and Vegetation Preservation - Deputy General Manager's Report No. IR19_17 - HORNSBY DEVELOPMENT CONTROL PLAN TREE AND VEGETATION PRESERVATION AMENDMENT
Attachment 2 to Report IR2/18 - Submissions table - Draft amendment to HDCP2013
Attachment 3 to Report No. IR2/18 - HSC3885 Tree Preservation DCP Changes_22Feb18
File Reference: F2007/00707-02
Document Number: D07374207