UPDATE – **SAVE THE TREES** MEETING BEAUMARIS HIGH SCHOOL SITE – TUESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 5.00-5.30PM – Murray Thompson the MP for Sandringham is meeting with interested persons this evening at 5pm to discuss the threatened removal of 100 seemingly healthy gum trees from the site of the new high school on 24th October.
The Beaumaris Secondary College is a unique school site. It is surrounded by a stunning canopy of significant Eucalyptus and bordered by remnant indigenous Tea-tree and heathland. The open spaces of playing fields are directly connected to the adjacent Long Hollow Heathland which is what remains of an ancient creek that ran through the site.
Built in the 1960s, Beaumaris High School was your typical Victorian State School structure. Three parallel concrecte block classroom buildings connected by covered breezeways. I went ot Cheltenham Secondary College and it was exactly the same. What makes the Beaumaris Campus unique however is its natural environment and its canopy trees.
Over the last couple of years the Beaumaris Community has fought hard to give new life to the Beaumaris Campus, which had fallen into disrepair and a rapidly declining enrolment. These actions successfully lobbied the State Government and have led to a new school facility being constructed as a stand alone Secondary School.
Unfortunately the community has once again had to rally and fight for this unique location. Approximately 100 significant native canopy trees are set for removal starting Monday 24 October 2016, including a magnificant row of Eucalyptus that border the site on its main road frontage. The community has only just been made aware of this removal, less than one week before it commences and lack of transparency with the development is alarming.
But action is rapidly being taken to try and stop what will be a tragedy for the local environment.
A petition has been set up and can be signed here: www.change.org
As members of this amazing community and also as landscape architects, this is an issue that my wife and I feel strongly about. We have written the following letter to the Premier of Victoria and relevant MPs so as to bring some sense to this avoidable distruction of our natural environment.
We write with great concern over the proposed removal of significant canopy trees on the Beaumaris Secondary College site. The community has only just been made aware of this and with works to commence from Monday 24th October 2016, immediate action is required to stop this occurring.
While the development of the independent school has been a highly sought after outcome and the community has been generally in favour with the project, the possible removal of many existing and highly significant canopy trees on the site is unacceptable. As landscape architects, we are faced with complex development sites every day and the retention of significant trees is always a priority.
Beaumaris is a suburb that is rich in environmental value. Prior to sub-division and development in the 1960s the local sandy soil had proven unsuitable for agriculture, resulting in an area that retained much of its remnant indigenous vegetation. Modern builders and architects then created architecturally unique homes that were site specific and retained much of the existing vegetation. While newer homes have since led to the removal of many trees over the years, Beaumaris is still unique to the local area and is known for its native landscape, bushland character and significant canopy trees.
The existing trees on the Beaumaris Campus site and in particular along the Balcombe Road frontage are integral to the local environment and should be kept for the following reasons:
1. The existing school footprint and surrounding cleared area provides ample space for a new design without removing trees along the site frontages and boundaries.
2. The vegetation stand on Balcombe Road provides a visual and wind buffer between the road and the school.
3. The trees (particularly the stand adjacent to Balcombe Road) have a strong identity within the community and reflect the ecological diversity of the area.
4. The recent loss of vegetation further along Balcombe Road (at the former RSL site and nearby apartment site) has considerably changed the character of this gateway to Beaumaris and all efforts must be made to stop this negative transformation.
5. The proposed school and future students will benefit considerably from mature existing vegetation. These trees are over 50 years old and the energy required to replace such vegetation will be immense. It will be 2045 before replacement vegetation can provide the shade and shelter currently provided by this existing vegetation.
6. The costs and energy required to remove the vegetation would be better directed towards the creation of the new facilities.
7. Long Hollow Heathland is immediately behind the school. Given the recent vegetation removal as mentioned in point 4 and the proposed trees to be removed, Long Hollow will become an isolated patch of vegetation and biodiversity values within the Hollow will diminish.
Furthermore, we are concerned with the lack of community engagement in this process. The standalone Beaumaris Secondary College was driven by the local community and therefore it is essential that we are provided more detail regarding the proposed works. It is only through an on-line community network that knowledge of the tree removal has been made public and there is great concern with the apparent secrecy of the project and the lasting effect this will have on the local environment and community.
We ask that you address this issue immediately, as the imminent loss of these trees will be a lasting legacy of what should be an exciting new development for both Beaumaris and Victoria.
Amy Davidson & Jason Davidson
AILA Registered Landscape Architect
Beaumaris Consevervation Society – http://www.bcs.asn.au/