Tree cover to be mandatory for development in Sydney’s north

Urban greening through mandatory tree cover, minimising urban heat and mitigating climate change, will be able to be considered during the assessment of development applications to Woollahra Municipal Council, which will require properties to have a tree canopy of up to 35 per cent.

Woollahra Liberal councillor Mary-Lou Jarvis said the new planning rules were prompted by a spate of knockdown rebuilds in Sydney’s eastern suburbs that destroyed mature trees. Jarvis said established gardens and often historic trees were being sacrificed to satisfy profit-driven motives of developers.

Fellow councillor Merrill Witt said developers used sophisticated town planning outfits to argue for non-complying development. “Approval of these types of requests sets a bad precedent and over time leads to an erosion of development standards, loss of local character and tree cover,” said Witt.

Ku-ring-gai council also requires development sites to provide a minimum number of tall trees capable of attaining a mature height of 13 metres or more.

Committee for Sydney planning policy manager Estelle Grech said there was “great inequality” in the city’s urban tree canopy, with the leafy north enjoying 40 per cent cover while eastern Sydney has 15 per cent and western Sydney has 16 per cent.

See the Greening Sydney Strategy at

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