GEORGE STREET MAY GET GREENER
Built-heritage hard nuts and bark-hugging philarborists have compromised over proposals to improve and beautify George Street.
Until recently, architectural purists had argued for retaining the First New Town’s strict punctuation of hard design sentences with leafy full stops. Environmentally minded urbanists wanted softer sentences instead, with semi-colons to improve air quality, provide shade, and boost physical/mental wellbeing.
At a design workshop in April, key stakeholders agreed trees could indeed benefit the streetscape here, provided they ‘compliment the area’s original design principles … while maintaining views of the street’s unique architecture, monuments and axial alignment with Charlotte and St Andrew Sq’.
A report to the Transport & Environment Cmte on 15 June showed potential sites for between 4 and 8 trees at either end of the street, with all specimens (of unspecified shape and species) restricted to a height of 6–8m. See pages 6–7 and Appendix 2.
Not everyone is convinced. Some sceptics still insist that 16 trees will not save the planet but will reduce the street’s architectural integrity. They are more concerned that new ‘event spaces’ on George Street have been prioritised over new public toilets.
Others suggest the proposed bonsai-style 'root management', as a way of controlling tree height, is unduly complicated and expensive. Pollarding would be better.
A final decision about if and which new trees should go where will depend on a ground-penetrating-radar survey of George Street basements and utilities undertaken earlier this month. We expect the results by late summer.