1. What types of trees will they be?
This decision is not yet made. There are basic criteria that must be met for street trees, including in Lurline’s case, fire-retardancy. It is anticipated that a short list of possibilities will be drawn up by Council’s contracted lead Landscape Design firm in consultation with Council’s Planning and Environment team, the Treeline Lurline Project Control Group and Steering Committee chaired by a level 5 arborist. Community feedback will then be invited on the short list as part of the consultation on draft design proposals.
2. Will the trees be native, will they be deciduous?
Probably both. The main species will be deciduous fire-retardant exotics for reasons of winter light, maintenance and seasonal colour. The thinking is that the street corners could be the place for smaller native trees, again fire-retardant, e.g Brachychiton, but no decision has been made and suggestions are welcome.
3. What are the expected heights of the trees?
Large. 20 to 25metres when they are fully grown (probably not in most of our lifetimes). This is the point of undergrounding the power – to allow high canopies that create a spectacular boulevard, do not obstruct sightlines or buses, lift the sky (as big trees do) and provide wildlife habitat and corridor.
4. Will the trees be in the road or footpath? Will they reduce parking?
The trees will be in the road in garden beds called ‘blisters’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, because the services are under the footpath so the planned trenching and backfilling with horticultural soil for the trees would not be possible. Secondly, trees in the road have a documented traffic calming effect. Thirdly, we want to keep the footpaths spacious for sitting areas and possibly as a shared cycleway (this will be considered in the design stage).
So yes, the trees will reduce parking spaces. However, even over busy holiday weekends, Lurline Street is never parked out. Businesses are required to have off street parking. One of the points of the project is to encourage locals and visitors to walk the street rather than drive it. This will calm and hopefully reduce traffic, invigorate street life and benefit the streetfront businesses.
5. Can a resident on Lurline Street frontage have a say about where the tree will be located outside their property?
The exact placement will be part of the design specification for each block but, as with electrical undergrounding of power, it will be done in consultation with the relevant residents as the project unfolds. It would seem sensible to try and put the trees between the houses rather than directly in front of them. Of course, car parking must also be factored in so that there are full spaces between the trees.
6. Will this project change the sunlight entering houses along Lurline Street, affecting either morning or afternoon light and the micro climate of temperature and humidity?
Eventually, yes, to some extent. The trees will create a new, and arguably, beneficial micro-climate but it won’t happen quickly. This is a legacy project. Even though we have budgeted for advanced trees to be planted, any impact beyond the pavement is probably 30 years away. Even then, the trees will be well away from most buildings, and it will make sense to plant them between rather than directly in front of each house. This is a further reason deciduous trees are favoured as the main tree species so that there is summer cooling, dappling and shade but light and warmth is maximised in winter.
7. How will pedestrians cross the street safely?
As they always do, after looking both ways. The canopies will be higher than the pedestrians, as with other tree-lined streets. There is also the RMS documented benefit that street trees are a recognised mechanism for traffic calming. So by slowing the traffic down, the trees will make Lurline Street safer for pedestrians. Currently its straight, flat, open ‘dragstrip’ qualities promote speeding.
8. Will the trees or their leaves block storm water systems?
The Lurline storm water systems are collapsing with broken and blocked drains. Sydney water and council workers are there clearing drains on an almost weekly basis. The whole system and paving have been flagged for renewal by the Council since at least 2009. The current system of wall-to-wall hard surfaces (albeit cracked) direct the great bulk of the water via the drains to the national park and Sydney water catchment along with urban silt, pollutants and nutrients.
Treeline Lurline will transform this. The drainage and surfaces will be renewed to create best practice storm water harvesting and polishing for the trees and gardens with pervious surfaces to ‘harvest’ and eco pits to ‘polish’ the water. Along with helping to improve national park/ catchment water quality, this will improve water absorption in the soil. This is all budgeted.
9. Will Council maintain the trees and manage all the autumn leaves? .
Without powerlines there will be much less tree maintenance (lopping). From Council’s point of view, deciduous trees that drop their leaves all at once are less maintenance and liability than native trees that shed leaves, bark and branches year round.
The autumn leaves will be a resource that we hope to use as part of the circular economy. Rather than being collected by Council and trucked to Blayney, we will be working to establish local composting for use on Katoomba public gardens.
10. Will the trees be sterile and/ or possibly invasive of local bushland.
The Council’s contracted project manager working with the Treeline Lurline’s expert Steering Committee and Council’s own team of environmental scientists will not select an invasive species.
11. Will they create a fire corridor in the next drought?
On the contrary, it is intended that as well as being a wildlife corridor, the trees and gardens will form a fire shelter belt to help reduce radiant heat, winds and ember attacks that generate the main threat to properties in a bushfire. All selected tree and shrub species will be fire retardant. Combined with the stormwater harvesting that will improve moisture retention in the trees and soil, the trees will reduce bushfire risk – as will undergrounding the power lines.
12. Why does Lurline Street need to be toffed’ up like Leura just to please the tourists?
We do not consider trees, seats, level and unbroken paving for walking and cycling, pervious surfaces and eco pits to harvest and filter stormwater for the health of the environment, underground power to get rid of the cage of poles and wires and reduce fire risks, and a heritage art walk to celebrate and deepen our sense of place as ‘toffed up’. We see it as creating beauty, ease, recreational and educational opportunity and community cohesion that thousands of residents who use Lurline Street will be able enjoy including the many elderly and low income people who live in surrounding affordable housing blocks and the school children who traipse the Lurline mile every week day.