School's guardian on protected list

School's guardian on protected list

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 07:41 21/03/2014
Tree
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
PROTECTED: Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School pupils Aimee Harper-Smith and Luke Scott with a totara at their front entrance on Linton St.

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Standing 15 metres tall, the survivor of a pair of totara at the entrance to Palmerston North Intermediate School is destined for protection.

It is one of 19 individual trees or groups of specimens proposed to be added to the schedule of notable trees in the city council's District Plan.

The tree has stood at the Linton St property, originally in the front garden of a house, for more than four decades.

When the school moved its main entrance from Ferguson St to Linton St, the tree was preserved as a landmark at the gate. Its partner, however, did not make it.

Arborist John Wakeling assessed both trees in early 2011 in preparation for changes to the notable trees schedule.

While encouraged about the significance of the larger of the two totara, he was gloomy about the future of its companion, which had been retained as a centrepiece at the entrance.

He described it as "a very poor specimen".

"The tree is very badly formed and has been damaged at the root plate.

"If it lives, it will never develop into a good specimen.

"If the root damage is as bad as is indicated, it may not survive more than a few years."

On a stormy day a few months later, the tree came crashing down across the driveway, just 20 minutes before the afternoon bell rang.

"Our first concern was that someone could have been hurt - the children do sit on the seat by the entrance," said principal David Jopson.

"But fortunately, it did no damage."

Mr Jopson said the school was proud of its trees, particularly the surviving, strong totara, and welcomed moves to help protect it.

"When we developed the car park, the board of trustees was determined to retain the trees that were there, and the gates were positioned so we could do that."

City council policy planner Matthew Mackay said people who have a notable tree or trees on their property are only allowed to trim them with hand tools.

Anything more significant needs council approval, with the council contributing to the costs of employing an approved arborist to carry out trimming or maintenance.

Notable trees can be felled if the council is satisfied they are diseased or pose a danger to life or property.

Owners who want to remove a healthy notable tree or excavate within the drip line have to apply for resource consent and pay the costs themselves.

The proposed additions to and deletions from the city's notable trees schedule are out for public consultation at the moment as part of Plan Change 13 to the District Plan dealing with cultural and natural heritage.

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The change also proposes changes to the schedule of heritage buildings, including 22 buildings, mostly houses, to be added to the list.

Submissions close on Friday, April 11.

After that date there is an opportunity for further submissions to be made on any of the public comments, before a formal hearing later in the year.

- Manawatu Standard

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