Teak Lane – is this green belt for sale?

Teak Lane: a true belt of "nature" abutting the shopping centre

Teak Lane: a true belt of “nature” abutting the shopping centre

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 fence around the shopping centre keeps Teak Land Nature belt ...well hidden from shoppers

The fence around the shopping centre keeps Teak Lane green space well hidden from shoppers

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?

The carpark is found behind the fence...through the gateway

The carpark is found behind the fence…through the gateway

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.

Looking through the "hole in the fence" ...from greenspace to a busy  carpark

The shopping centre car park viewed through the “hole in the fence”

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)

The view down Teak Lane from Sycamore Parade

The view down Teak Lane from Sycamore Parade

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”.

Redlands2030 – 6 August 2015

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

8 thoughts on “Teak Lane – is this green belt for sale?

  1. This story just doesn’t stack up. A park is being abused by an unruly lot of people using the shopping centre. Some one decides to fix the problem by selling the park. If that logic works for the State Government what will they do if a hospital is overcrowded or a school…fix the problem by selling the hospital or the school.

    And what happened to the ALPs commitment about asset sales, and the election commitments by so many of the local Council candidates to NOT sell parks.

    There used be core and non core promises but now there are real and unreal promises.

    Surely someone with authority can pull the plug on a bad bad decision. Where is Matt McEachan … Don Brown or Minister Lynham?

  2. Is this another example of council ignoring its own vision? In Volume 1- The strategy. Redlands Open space strategy2026 dated December 2012, part of the vision of Redlands 2030 Commuity Plan is presented. Goal 13 – includes Green leafy parklands, natural landscaping between buildings and houses all contribute to shaing our streets, supporting flora and fauna and beautifying our city.
    Yes The Teak Lane Nature strip does meet those elements of Goal 13.

    Table 1.1 on the values of open spaces include “Healthy Natural Environment”. The built environment integrates well with the natural environment. It is evident based on the article as well walking through the area often that Teal Lane Nature Strip does provide an aesthetic landscape for nearby residents as well as for visitors thereby helping liveability in the area.
    Moreover the scenic amenity of the nature strip is that it provides a buffer zone between the residents of Sycamore Parade and the shopping centre – it “hides” the high fence and commercial buildings from the view from houses and yeards of residents.
    Strong connected community – The Nature strip provides a vital link between community health and diverse recreational opportunities and urban open spaces. I for one walk through the area and it puts people in contact with Nature which is essential for human mental health. There is a rapidly expanding literature on this subject and it is addressed in the box labelled “Melbourne Communique”.
    The article also identifies a number of aother amenities provides by the nature strip such as cooling effect by the vegetation affecting the micro-climate, it filters dust and other airborne particles from the traffic in the commercial area. It is also a small oasis in the expanding suburban sprawl.
    In Table 1.2 lists the drivers for amenity specifically to “protect scenic amenity….natural features and liveability of areas”. The nature and extent of the element being protected affects the decision as whether to to retain or develop open spaces.
    I was wondering whether Council considered the range of values that the Teak Lane Nature Strip provides the residents and visitors to the area? What weighting were these given in any decision for alternate use such as car park for the shopping complex?
    People need contact with Nature for their mental health; there is a rapidly growing literature on that. We can get by without the additional parking spots for the shopping centre, it has a significantly smaller social cost than losing the amenity and benefits of Nature strips. Even small lots of nature do add significantly to the liveability in the area. What are our priorities as a society? Do we value parking spots more than community mental health? Keep Teak Lane NAture Strip it does punch above its weight in the benefits that it confers on the community.

    • Kees well said sadly in the last term it seems that community values were ignored and Mayor Williams and her team were happy to let go of another precious area in Redlands. They were happy to flog 23 parks off to developers. It was only when the local paper made citizens aware that they overturned their decision but Teak Lane is public space owned not by developers but taxpayers. For the Mayor to make some attempt now to claw back her promise to the developer and give the red light to the State is all too late
      Hopefully someone in the state will have a conscience and acknowledge the community concerns.

  3. As only a few people may be aware Redland City Council has set up their own little develiopment company, they have a council officer as a CEO. There are many blocks of land identified for sale on some secret list , some purchased by the environmnetal levy, some heavy Treed like Teak Lane and others open space used by families.
    I recall this land was part of a Court order and was to be retained for its environmental values, as the shopping centres removed thousands of large koala habiat trees during the construction There were meetings with residents attended by Council Community development officers and landscape specilaist, There were issues of people leaving the tavern and causing problems but I believe this was solved by closing a gate by the Council Security contractor similar to our public toilets at night
    Once the developer acquires this land, who says it will be a car park, could be more retail or residential even high density housing. Does the council again want to sit on their hands or act like the three monkeys, Council step up to the plate and take a stand and protect this environmental parcel of land or is there an hidden agenda

  4. In the list of “Values of a buffer belt”, the article mentions property values but doesn’t nail home the point that the loss of a strip of nearby public parkland represents an uncompensated destruction of the property rights of the neighbours and nearby landowners. Green spaces enhance the value of residential property. If they are on public land that is set aside as public open space, then the enhancement is built into the value of all allotments affected advantageously by the subject land. In other words, incoming purchasers would have paid more. To have that value stripped away without compensation is unethical.

  5. ALL designated urban green spaces should be protected from development. If Teak Lane goes what area will be next?

  6. As the need for car park spaces cannot be verified (as though that is good enough reason for more destruction of wildlife reserve or more open green space for Redlands citizens), why does any action have to be undertaken. Our mayor has told us the budget is in surplus so money cannot be a reason, so why?

  7. Is it for sale? The answer is NO or at least it should be NO! I can’t believe that someone would want to develop it. I feel sorry for the residents who live with it on their back fence line and who are in danger of losing it. It’s scandalous that this should even come up for discussion. Are the money grubbing developers not already getting enough money from all of the other parts of the city that they’re destroying in the name of `growth’? Keep your hands off the land and leave some trees to provide, shade, habitat and oxygen (you know that important stuff that we all need to breathe?) Developers are the ruining our city – with the help of the council who just LOVE development! Leave it alone!

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