A stoush has erupted over a 25-metre Norfolk pine at Snells Beach north of Auckland.
A developer has consent to chop the tree down to build 33 new homes at the northern end of the beach - but it's un-notified consent, and locals are furious.
The tree is over 150 years old, and is believed to have been gifted to the area by Governor George Grey, and was planted by early settle James Snell, after whom the beach is named.
Michele MacKenzie lives near the tree and has begun a campaign to protect it.
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Since airing this interview we received the following statement from Ian Dobson, Manager Northern Resource Consenting at Auckland Council.
The Rodney Local Board should have been informed about the consent application for the subdivision of the site. This was an oversight on our part. It is important to note that local boards are unable to make decisions on resource consent applications.
We don’t believe there were errors in the assessment of this application. With respect to the height of the tree, the Landscape and Visual Effects Assessment submitted by the applicant refers to the Norfolk Island pine as being more than 25m in height. The visual impact of the tree was assessed by a landscape architect and peer reviewed by the council’s landscape architect and planner. Both undertook a site visit to assess the tree within its landscape context and were therefore in a position to form an impression of the height and stature of the tree. They were also comfortable that the impact of the tree’s removal on the landscape character and visual amenity of the area would be acceptable.
At this time, we do not believe that the application contained inaccuracies that were material to the decision to approve consent for the development.
In addition to the above, the perceived historical significance of the tree is also not relevant to the assessment of the proposal. The tree does not have any special protection due to individual historical significance and consent was required to remove the tree due to its proximity to a water course, not because of any individual feature of the tree.
It is also important to note that the tree is not scheduled under the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in Part), nor was it scheduled under the previous Rodney District Plan. For the tree to be scheduled, a plan change would be required. While we are aware that the tree has been registered as a tree of significance, this does not have any bearing on the resource consent decision, nor does it mean the tree is scheduled under the Auckland Unitary Plan.
The decision to remove the tree and the timing of any removal, and site safety, rests with the applicant. They are required to give council 10 days’ notice prior to any vegetation clearance, and we have reminded them of this obligation.