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Proposal puts tree on notice

A certificate of compliance to fell a copper beech tree in Greytown is under consideration.

Despite going to some lengths to protect the tree in its revised resource consent application for 134 Main St, Woolworths NZ has also applied to the district council for a certificate of compliance that would allow the removal of such a tree at the site.

The resource consent application, publicly notified on Monday last week, is Woolworths NZ’s third attempt to establish access to Greytown’s Fresh Choice supermarket via its Main St section.

In the revised application, Woolworths NZ has proposed to accept the large copper beech tree’s retention as a condition of the consent and says changes in the application – such as keeping an existing wall and using specific materials for the pedestrian part of the access – would help
protect the tree’s root system.

It also notes in the application that the tree has no legal protection, as it does not appear on the Notable Tree Register for the district.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] planning manager James Witham confirmed the council has received requests to protect the large copper beech and noted that “the process of bringing trees onto the register requires the owner’s permission to enter the site to assess and score the tree. We don’t have that permission”.

On Thursday, SWDC received a letter on behalf of Woolworths NZ, requesting the council “issue a certificate of compliance [CoC] for the removal of an existing tree at 134 Main St”.

“The applicant owns the property … the subject copper beech tree is located at the street frontage of that property.”

The request for the certificate noted that neither the Regional Plan, nor the Resource Management Act [RMA], nor legislation such as Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, would deem the tree’s removal unlawful. It said under the District Plan, resource consent for vegetation removal in commercial zones is not required.

“[This assessment] confirms that removal of the copper beech tree can be undertaken as a permitted activity under the district plan at the date of the request.

“We, therefore, request that council issue the CoC on this basis.”

SWDC said a decision regarding a certificate of compliance will be made in late May – 20 working days after the request.

Woolworths NZ did not respond to a request for comment regarding the certificate of compliance.

Meanwhile, the supermarket giant’s revised resource consent application has come under fire for misrepresenting the large copper beech tree’s size.

Greytown architect Gina Jones said because the civil concept plan and topographical plans were drawn at different scales – 1:250 and 1:200, respectively – the proposal appears to have less impact.

“The 1:250 is a non-standard scale size. To the layperson, who doesn’t understand scales, everything will look smaller.”

She said neither map illustrates the tree’s correct spread, which the arborist’s report noted as 17 metres.

“The two architectural drawings supplied scale at 10m. Printing out aerial photographs from Wairarapa maps [to scale] show that the
arborist’s tree size is correct.”

In response to questions by the Times-Age, Woolworths NZ said the civil concept plan [1:250 scale] was prepared in response to a specific engineering query from Wellington Water.

“It was prepared with the appropriate scaling to show the location of the public pipes under Main St.

“The tree canopy shown on the architectural plan reflects the topographical survey.”

A request to see a treecology report of the copper beech tree, as cited in the Peers Brown Miller arborist report, was not granted.

Witham said a consultant reviewer – and the public – will be going through the revised resource consent application while consultation is open.

“It’s not uncommon for applicants to review the submissions and change approaches,” he said.

“We have to notify it as is. We don’t have any ability to review, change or amend it beforehand.”

Witham said should the applicant proceed, a public hearing will follow the consultation period. Consultation closes on May 23 at 4pm.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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