Application to fell Heriot Row maple

A scheduled maple tree near a historic Heriot Row home will be the next to have its fate considered by the Dunedin City Council.

The tree, more than 80 years old, is on a section next to the Basil Hooper-designed Ritchie House.

Although the section appears to be part of the house's garden, the site is owned separately by Drysdale Ltd, which has applied to have the tree removed to allow the site to be sold for development.

The tree is listed as significant on the council's schedule of trees, which means it cannot be removed without resource consent.

Recent public notification of the consent application attracted 11 submissions, 10 of them opposing the tree's removal. Council staff are also recommending the panel considering the application reject it because the tree is healthy and a predominant feature of the area.

Another council panel recently allowed the felling of a 125-year-old significant tree, a wellingtonia, growing in the enclosed courtyard of a residential facility for people with intellectual disabilities in Taieri Rd.

Another panel is considering the fate of a more than 80-year-old scheduled gum tree in Saddle Hill Rd, which its owner, Heather McLean, applied to remove because of concerns it was deteriorating and falling branches threatened road users, her woolshed and power lines below the tree.

A panel yesterday considered her application and six submissions in favour of the tree's removal, including one from her neighbour who said watching the tree in gale-force winds was ''frightening''. It also heard evidence from council staff who said the tree should not be removed, as it was healthy, stable, could be seen from a great distance and contributed to the natural amenity of the area.

The panel has reserved its decision until it has visited the site.

Opponents to the removal of the Heriot Row maple said they felt the tree was an important part of the architectural integrity of Ritchie House and developing the site would depreciate the historical value of the house.

Wojceich Klobukowski, the former owner of the site, said he placed a convenant on the site when he sold it in 2001, with the purpose of keeping the garden undeveloped and part of the house.

The author of a book about the work of Basil Hooper, Ralph Allen, said the tree and its landscape were architecturally as important as Olveston House.

Another submitter, Athol Parks, said the removal of the tree was ''inappropriate ... in a heritage precinct in a city which values its natural and built heritage''.

The panel will consider the application on Wednesday.



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