Cronulla development to have 'chronic impact' on fig tree at entrance to Monro Park

"Chronic impact": The life expectancy of the tree (left) will be reduced. Picture: John Veage

A magnificent fig tree, which has stood at the entrance to Monro Park, Cronulla, since the 1930s, could be dead in 15 years if the proposed adjoining development goes ahead.

An independent arborist report, commissioned by Sutherland Shire Council, said the life expectancy of the tree closest to the development site would be greater than 40 years from now based on the present surrounds.

The report said, if the development took place, "the cumulative impact of pruning and overshadowing will result in a reduction of photosynthetic capacity and have a chronic impact".

Man versus nature: The proposed development.

Man versus nature: The proposed development.

"Whilst it is extremely unlike the tree will die immediately, it is reasonable to assume the health and vitality will be negatively impacted.

"It is estimated [the tree's] life expectancy will be decreasing from greater than 40 years to 15 to 40 years."

Council staff said the impact would be the same from any development that complied with the 2015 Development Control Plan (DCP).

The Sammut Developments' seven-storey pub and commercial offices project complies on building height, but seeks an increase in density through a floor space ratio amendment.

Forty-four submissions were received from the public when the Planning Proposal was exhibited late last year.

Key issues included traffic and parking, potential impacts on the fig tree and amenity of Monro Park and potential adverse impacts from any future pub.

Council staff concluded: "On balance, it is considered that the Planning Proposal's strategic merit outweighs potential negative consequences and it is recommended [the DCP amendment] be formally made".

The council is due to make a decision on February 22. If approval is given, a development application (DA) will then need to be lodged.

A council spokesman said the arborist report had allowed the council to fully understand how the tree would be impacted, what pruning would be required and how it could be best managed.

"This advice has allowed council to assess whether the additional floor space sought by the Planning Proposal exacerbates the extent of impact that would otherwise occur from a commercial development that complied with current development standards," he said.

"The expert advice will also help council better condition any DA so best practice strategies are put in place to minimise any potential adverse impacts to this tree and other neighbouring vegetation."