Media Response Trees at Monash Special Development School

Questions and Responses

ENQUIRY

A few residents are upset about some old trees (I've heard estimates of 100 years old) being ripped out within the grounds of Monash Special Developmental School, despite a heritage overlay.

I understand that the Education Department is exempt from the overlay however?

I've also seen a letter from council urging the principal to not cut the trees down.

What is the significance of the trees in this area?

What we know is that these Sugar Gum trees were at least 80 years old and they are included in a Heritage Overlay.  (NOTE: We have attached a copy of the heritage citation (doc, 2MB) that explains why they, along with the trees on the former school site, were included in the Heritage Overlay.)

What is council's reaction to the trees being cut down?

It’s disappointing but as the site is owned by the State Government, the Department of Education is the managing authority and we have no control over the aspects on site like buildings or the management of vegetation that would that would otherwise be subject to planning controls, even where heritage controls exist.  Council would prefer that they be kept, but we also would not want the trees to present any danger to students, parents and teachers at the school.  We would have hoped and we encouraged the school to consider maintaining the trees in a safe manner as opposed to removing them. 

However, Council is not able to make them keep the trees.   There is an exemption in all Planning Schemes relating to State schools which means that permits are not required from Council for many things on their land such as the tree removal.  This exemption for the Minister for Education is long standing.   

We’ve previously communicated to the school that it was Council’s and the community’s hopes that these trees would remain on the site.

Council has suggested an appropriate species for replacement planting and it is hoped that the Department of Education will consider this recommendation.

Issued: 11 July 2019
To: Monash Leader
Quoting: Mayor, Councillor Shane McCluskey