A heavily treed buffer strip in Victoria Point could soon be sold off, depriving nearby residents of valuable green space.
Locals are questioning why this land should be sold off and they are concerned about the secretive nature of consultation with a select group of property owners in this area.
Most people would be unaware that the land exists but it provides a buffer strip separating a commercial development at Victoria Point from nearby residences in Sycamore Street. It’s known locally as “ Teak Lane Nature Belt”. Like many parks in Redland City this is State land and Council is the trustee. The area of the nature belt is almost 5,000 sq meters…a useful area of greenspace in an increasingly urbanised area.
A history of secrecy?
Last year the State Government sent out letters to residents of Sycamore Parade asking them if they approved of the land’s sale. The letter, signed by an officer of State Land, claimed the lack of response by a designated date would be considered as support for the sale. The presumption and the timing of the letter was not conducive to sincere or constructive consultation.
For more history, see the report from early this year in the Bayside City Bulletin. At the time the Bulletin reported the “secret letter ” that “warned residents not to show the correspondence to third parties and the state government refused Redland City Bulletin a copy”.
Values of a buffer belt
The value and benefit of urban forests and the value of trees in urban areas are now widely researched and the local residents have gathered a reasoned list of attributes, which includes:
- The nature belt provides an aesthetic landscape appeal to all nearby residents, in turn helps maintain the liveability of the nearby housing estate.
- The scenic amenity of the area is higher than would otherwise be the case because the ‘nature belt’ hides the unappealing high fence and the adjacent commercial buildings from the houses and yards of residents, The evidence is now available to show that the higher the scenic amenity the higher are property values. A loss of scenic amenity would cause o loss of property values.
- The nature belt has a a cooling effect on the micro climate of the locality and trees help the convectional air flow and the shading from trees directly benefits the nearby residences
- The nature belt acts as to mitigate noise from the shopping centre and even nearby main roads: this enhances the liability for nearby residents on both sides of Sycamore Parade. Continued regrowth in the nature belt naturally and the more dense the vegetation such that the “noise barrier” gets better every year.
- The nature belt provides a valuable wildlife habitat – a small oasis in an otherwise increasing suburban sprawl
- The sense of place of Sycamore Parade is framed by the nature belt
- Traffic into and around shopping centres create large amounts of greenhouse gases and dust and other airborne particulates , the nature belt helps to filter these pollutants and contribute to the health of residents.
Even where rationalisation of greenspace might have some merit, it should be on the basis that any proceeds are used to secure alternate and better community greenspace.
Is the Teak Lane nature belt for sale?
It seems that Redland City Council is proposing to to “disown” the nature strip. Residents believe the Council is searching for reasons to discharge its obligation as trustee of the reserve. Cost of maintenance of the nature belt has been mentioned.
In the past there has been anti-social behaviour, vandalism, graffiti, and loitering within the nature belt but these issues have NOT been evident for some time and it seems the area may not attract anti-social behaviour that is any different from other similar locations across the city.
If that reasoning holds sway then many other small areas of greenspace are at risk from the economic rationalists whose approach seems to be to sell any public land that is misused…solving the symptom but avoiding the problem!!
Correspondence came to light involving various Government departments, Redland City Council and the State Government. This correspondence is concerned with options or plans whereby the Lancini Group (owners of the shopping centre) have apparently expressed an interest in developing the nature strip into a car park.
The need for additional car parking in the shopping centre seems dubious given an observation of the parking “at any day in the year” shows there is ample car parking. This is supported informally by some retailers in the shopping centre.
A meeting of residents (or is it just for some residents)
It is understood that an “invitation only” meeting is being arranged to discuss the future of the nature strip and that security officers are to be on-hand to bounce anyone not invited. Copies of the letter are difficult to obtain; may be residents feel intimidated by the letter itself and the apparent complicity of the State and Council bureaucracy.
Locals are concerned that owners “backing” on the the nature strip were invited and a few of their neighbours from the southern side of Sycamore Parade. But only some of the affected people seem to have been invited. An “invitation only” meeting is concerning those residents who are not invited.
It is rare that any area of community greenspace has value only to locals. There will almost always be a value to those beyond the local community.
Attempts to keep the disposal options of the Teak Lane Nature belt “under wraps” and limit the scope of community consultation reflect poorly on both the State Government and Redland City Council.
Is anyone listening?
Locals hoped that with a change of Government at the State election, their plight might be re-examined by a new Government that had promised to listen.
They have observed the actions of other community groups, working to protect their local areas from poorly planned over-development focussed on short term economic gains rather than community welfare.
Social media is being employed to try and get the State and Redlands City Council to listen to the affected locals through a Facebook page Teak Lane Enjoy don’t destroy. The residents are welcoming support from people using the shopping centre with more and more looking through the gate. Teak Lane is set to become yet another Redland City community “flashpoint”.