Main Roads WA and the City of Kalamunda have reached a “compromise” in response to a community protest against the removal of a minimum of 10 lemon-scented gum trees on Welshpool Road East in Wattle Grove.0
After a meeting on Thursday, the City and Main Roads agreed to a new configuration of a planned that will see 10 trees removed to build a slip-lane for a Church development.
Those two numbers are the same, that is not a mistake.
The trees are just part of what locals have described as an avenue of trees on the road verge leading into the hills that set the tone for the lifestyle and habitat they enjoy.
A development application for St Peters Jacobite Syrian Church was approved by the City of Kalamunda on November 28, with the construction of two slip lanes, one on the right-hand side of Welshpool Road East to facilitate U-turns and one on the left lane to allow easier entry to the church, a condition of the approval.
The construction of the slip-lane would see a minimum of 10 and up to 13 trees removed from the road verge, with at least two of the trees having a circumference of over three metres.
Several Facebook pages against the removal of the trees have sprung up, as well as a change.org petition from local resident Vanessa Mazza, which at time of print has 8,801 signatures.
The petition claims the trees will be cut down on October 2.
A public meeting was held near the site on Monday, with around 50 local residents attending.
Kim Sinclair was at the meeting and has lived in Wattle Grove for seven years, just 300 metres from the Church, and he described the removal of the trees as crazy.
“This has really come out of left field in the last few days, it’s become apparent what’s happening and nobody in their right mind thought these trees were coming down,” he said.
“They’re taking trees down that have been here for many, many years, and they’re part of the gateway to the hills.
“It’s an iconic stretch of road and sets up what the hills and this area is all about with this fantastic avenue of trees.”
Mr Sinclair said the residents were not against the Church, just the slip lane, adding that he would like to see more consistency from the City of Kalamunda.
“There’s a Mosque development on Lewis Road that will create five times the vehicle movement five times a day, the City didn’t think the extra traffic was an issue for that and it’s a single lane road with a blind spot.
“No issue there, big issue here.”
A spokesman for the St Peters Jacobite Syrian Church said he could understand the frustrations of the community after putting several different proposals to the City of Kalamunda in an effort to retain the trees.
“In our development application we had a traffic engineer come in, and in his assessment the slip road that already exists was sufficient,” he said.
“The City of Kalamunda said it wasn’t, so we came back with three more proposals, two of which did not impact the trees, but they decided on the third option.
“We want to retain the trees, we don’t want them removed but we’re in a difficult position, because we also want to build our church, and this slip lane is a condition of that development.
“We are more than happy to work with Main Roads WA and the City of Kalamunda to find an alternative.”
That alternative was reached on Thursday during a meeting between the City of Kalamunda and Main Roads WA.
A Main Roads WA spokeswoman said both Main Roads and the City agreed that a slip lane is necessary in the interests of road safety.
“The City has already considered the constraints the existing trees pose in this area and have reduced the length of the combined left turn pocket and bus embayment to minimise the impact on the existing trees in the area.
“They have identified 10 trees will need to be removed.
“Main Roads supports the compromise to the design the City has made on this issue.”
However that compromise is almost exactly the same as the original design that would see at least 10, and potentially 13, trees removed.
By Liam Ducey