At a special meeting of Norwood Payneham & St Peters Council at 7.30 pm on 16th April 2014 Councillors voted to approve a motion that puts the onus back on Coles to fund any removal of the Norwood Cork Tree from its present location in the Coles car park.
The approved motion says (paraphrased in the absence of the exact text at this stage) that the Council supports that the Norwood Cork Tree should remain in situ, but in case any application to redevelop the car park and shops is approved, the Council will not provide any funds to move the tree.
A report commissioned from ENSPEC on the feasibility of moving the cork tree was considered. The report is available on the NPSP Council website http://www.npsp.sa.gov.au/about_council/council_and_committees/council_agenda_and_minutes
The report advises that the Norwood Cork Tree can be removed successfully to nearby Council owned Coke Park.
The heritage value of the tree was vigorously debated by several councillors. The Mayor, Robert Bria threatened to eject one Councillor, Luciana Marcuccitti at one point in the proceedings and another Councillor, Paul Wormald, was also called to order.
Councillor Paul Wormald pointed out that the Council had spent several million dollars ensuring that the St Peters Town Hall complex was restored and retained, because of the heritage value of the building. He compared this with the Norwood Cork Tree, of approximately the same age, which was valuable in terms of natural heritage. Yet the Council was not prepared to spend a much smaller sum in ensuring the Norwood Cork Tree was preserved for future generations.
Councillor Luciana Marcuccitti argued that expenditure on the tree was not warranted when there were so many social problems in the area and so many more items worthy of Council expenditure. She also pointed out that many people had complained to her in the street about any expenditure on the cork tree and that many residents did not even know the tree existed. She commented on the few people who had supported the retention of the cork tree as being activists and included the local Residents Association in her remarks. She compared the idea of moving the cork tree to what happened to the Burnside River Red Gum, also in a shopping complex, and mentioned the torture that tree endured after it had been enclosed, all to no avail, as despite the advice of many experts, the tree died.
So the prospect of saving the Norwood Cork Tree now lies in the hands of Coles Developers, should any future application to develop the site be approved. Will they take into account the recommendation of Council that this heritage tree should remain in its current location, will they fund the removal of the tree to Coke Park, or will they just chop the tree down overnight?
The over 2400 people who signed our two petitions sincerely hope that Coles will respect the value residents have placed on the tree and plan around it. The best chance the tree has of survival is to remain in its current position, where it is still flourishing after 122 years.