Uproar over toppled trees

The trees and shrubs cleared from the former Sockburn Service Centre site were causing security...
The trees and shrubs cleared from the former Sockburn Service Centre site were causing security problems and fly-tipping, the city council says. Photo: Star Media
Up to 220 trees and shrubs have been cut down at a large Christchurch property on Main South Rd in a bid to maximise the sale price.

Mike Mora.
Mike Mora.
However, the lack of public consultation by Christchurch City Council over the axing of the trees at the former Sockburn Service Centre site has been criticised.

The service centre was demolished last year after lying unoccupied due to damage in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, but a water reservoir and pump station remain on the 2.8ha site.

Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board chairman Mike Mora said the board was disappointed not to have been consulted about what has happened.

City council head of facilities, property and planning Bruce Rendall said the board was not consulted because removal of the trees was “a purely operational matter.”

The overgrown site posed a security issue and attracted fly-tippers, detracting from its value.

“As part of the preparation for sale, we have reviewed the vegetation and its impact on safety, security and potential price,” Rendall said.

“Based on this we have undertaken significant clearance work, with the aim of ensuring that the site is in a safe and secure condition until sale and we maximise return consistent with the site’s commercial mixed-use zoning.”

He estimated that between 150 to 220 trees and shrubs had been cut down between December 17 and December 23, but said these would be replaced by natives.

Former site of the Sockburn Service Centre. Photo: Star News
Former site of the Sockburn Service Centre. Photo: Star News
The stream currently piped beneath the site would be brought back to the surface.

“We are retaining part of the site for this purpose, as well as other parts for water supply purposes.”

Drinking water and stormwater infrastructure and management would be among the issues taken into account as the city council worked on the site’s future, he said.

However, the city council was not yet able to pinpoint which areas of the site would be kept by the council.

Mora said people were disappointed to see healthy trees felled, although plans to plant natives on the site helped to mitigate this.

“I don’t think fly-tipping is such a big issue at all, it happens everywhere.”

The board was against the sale of the site and wanted to know more about the future of city council assets on the site, he said.

“They should be coming and talking to us about it.”

Riccarton Ward councillor Catherine Chu said it was disappointing to see trees being lost.

“I value communication so I guess it would have been helpful if the board was notified,” Chu said.

City council property consultancy manager Angus Smith said it was too early to engage with the community board.

“We will be briefing the board on those plans when they are more developed before making that information public,” Smith said.

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