Heriot Row tree to stay

A Mapua couple will likely appeal a decision preventing them from cutting down a protected tree on their Heriot Row property.

Eve and John Jackson had hoped to remove the 80-to-100-year-old maple tree to allow a prospective buyer to build on the section.

The subdivided site was the garden next to the Basil Hooper-designed Ritchie House which the Jacksons had restored before selling it to St Hilda's Collegiate School last year.

But the tree is on the Dunedin City Council's schedule of trees, which means it cannot be removed without resource consent.

A consent application was opposed by 10 of 11 submissions made.

Following a hearing last month, the Dunedin City Council panel, chaired by Cr David Benson-Pope, released its decision, saying as the tree was healthy and a mature specimen it should be retained for its amenity.

While the site had ''atypical development constraints'' including poor access, the tree and a restrictive covenant, they were in place when the couple bought the property.

''It considered the implications for development of the site or future sale should not have been a surprise to the applicants.''

The committee believed the development of a small dwelling could occur on the site despite the issues.

It also encouraged the owners to prune the tree to remove deadwood and enhance its amenity values.

Ideally, the property should be retained as gardens, but the owners could not be expected to maintain the section for the enjoyment of others long term, the decision said.

''A future development on this site should be anticipated unless the site is sold and amalgamated with an adjoining property.''

Mrs Jackson said she did not want to comment on the decision as the couple would probably appeal it.

The couple had 15 days from receiving the decision to appeal to the Environment Court.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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