Randwick’s Green Councillors are proposing some “localized fine tuning” in the design of the CBD to South East Light Rail line in order to retain two iconic trees in the Kingsford and Randwick areas.
Can the NSW Government and Randwick Council fine tune a light rail line enough to retain the Tree of Knowledge?
The Greens are hoping to enlist the crucial support of Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith to arrange a meeting between the Council’s General Manager and the Minister for Transport. Greens Councillor Murray Matson, a long time light rail supporter, said this week,
“Both the State Government and Randwick Council have been strong advocates for the return of light rail. The Light Rail Agreement between TfNSW and Council was signed in the spirit of trying to reduce tree removals where ever possible. Indeed, the agreement allowed the Council and Government to cooperate in a successful search for an alternative interchange site to save the trees of High Cross Park. And we could potentially repeat that with these two iconic trees individually known as The Tree of Knowledge and The Kingsford Gate Tree. Local MP Bruce Notley-Smith could help immensely by arranging a meeting between Council’s General Manager and the Minister. It’s not big changes that are required, just some localised fine tuning.”
Councillor Matson has put two motions to next Tuesday night’s Randwick Council meeting on the 24th May at 6pm.
The Tree of Knowledge is actually four or five fig threes that have grown together into one.
One motion suggests a slight realignment of the curve of the line as it turns from Wansey Road into High Street Randwick. This would allow the bypassing of a group of large fig trees that have uniquely grown together into one conjoined specimen christened the “The Tree of Knowledge” for its proximity to UNSW. Councillor Matson said,
“The proposal is not for a drastic change of route but for a localized fine tuning of the rail line to flatten out the curve as it swings into High Street. The Tree of Knowledge as it is called, is suspected to actually consist of approximately four or five separate fig trees growing into a single fig over the last 150 years or more.”
The second motion deals with a single large fig with an extensive canopy in the median strip just south of the Kingsford roundabout. Councillor Matson supports Kingsford becoming the centre for the soon-to-be merged eastern suburb councils and wants the tree retained for the aesthetic impact it will lend to the new administrative complex. He thinks this tree should be called “The Kingsford Gate Tree” or “The Gate Tree” because it sits at the southern gate to Kingsford.
The Kingsford Gate Tree dominates the Southern entry to Kingsford from its position in the median strip of Anzac Parade.
His motion proposes rezoning the tree’s location to ‘Zone E2 Environmental Conservation’ based on its aesthetic value. He said,
“It is the Government’s intent that Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra Councils merge into an eastern suburbs Council. If that is to be what happens then we Randwick Councillors think that the new administrative centre should be built on the old Kingsford market site where the light rail will pass. We are offing a $300,000 prize for the best new planning concept for the Kingsford and Kensington town centres and I am sure that many contestants will be thinking that The Gate Tree could star at the southern perimeter of their concepts.”