Ask RiotACT: Regulated trees on Mr Fluffy blocks

AJ 18 May 2018 18
Ask RiotACT

Hi Rioters,

I am one of the unlucky & frustrated buyers who bought a Mr Fluffy block at auction and later found out that there is a regulated tree on the block – which I can’t remove!

The location of the tree is ruining everything for my family’s dream house plan. Because of the tree, I can’t build a house to fulfill the requirement for my family and specifically for my son who has a disability. He needs space for his therapy and equipment. He is already on carers payment and NDIS.

I applied for removal of this tree to TCCS and gave them all the reasons (family circumstances, additional cost to build two storey house etc). Their response was like, ‘we don’t care how you manage, we want that tree there. You bought that block, you suffer’…

In addition, apparently my neighbours also have a problem with the removal of the tree.

I am the owner of the block and the tree is affecting my family sustainability. I feel I should be allowed to get rid of it.

I did say to TCCS that I am happy to plant more trees on my block or willing to pay a fine. I don’t have a problem with the tree on my block, it’s just the location of the tree.

How can they allow the removal of hundreds of trees from Northbourne Avenue and new suburbs but they won’t allow me to remove a single tree?

I am really frustrated and I feel I have run out of every possible option to get rid of that tree.

Would love any advice on what I can do or any other avenues I should pursue?

Thanks so much.

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18 Responses to Ask RiotACT: Regulated trees on Mr Fluffy blocks
rr2606 rr2606 3:30 pm 21 May 18

Hi AJ. Have you asked your building designer about the chances the tree removal could be approved as part of a Merit Track development application ? The Planning section has the ability to disregard the advice of the Conservator in certain circumstances.

AJ AJ 2:24 pm 21 May 18

Thanks so much guys for your input. I got a letter from my GP and therapist to request the removal for my TCCS application as my DS with disability needs some space for his therapy and equipment, which he can use year around. Also, the tree is just 1 meter from an unapproved structure (built by previous owner). So, my arborist is going to cover the potential risk from this development. If I don’t get a favourable outcome, then I am planning to send all the details to the ACT minsters as well. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

We do love trees and that is the main reason we bought this land in an established suburb with trees everywhere. Before buying this block I noticed the tree in the backyard, but it was behind the unapproved structure, so I was not able to determine how far in the backyard this tree was. An exclusion zone of this tree is a 6M radius, which leaves me a very small place to build.

Thanks again for your time in reading and suggesting.


Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 1:40 pm 21 May 18

You should count your blessings that NDIS is paying you taxpayer’s (our) money for your child. Your neighbours and the whole community benefit from established trees. The tree was already established and on your block when you bought it. Work around it! For an example of accommodating a tree, drive along Duffy St Ainslie where the house at about no. 30 built their deck around a tree.

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 11:51 am 21 May 18

We found the application process to be quite inconsistent. We were eventually granted permission to remove all of the gum trees on our old block, which took several applications over a period of 3 to 4 years. We were denied permission to remove a particular tree – but were then granted permission about a year later. The downside is it probably cost us $7000 to have them all done…

Sharon Casey Sharon Casey 7:58 am 21 May 18

Trees are part of the character and feel of the older suburbs. Want a treeless, soulless block that will be 10 degrees hotter in summer....go buy in one of the new McMansion suburbs.

    Matthew Cousins Matthew Cousins 8:52 am 21 May 18

    There was once a time when the older suburbs also had no trees and in your words no soul. New suburbs have to start somewhere

Jedda Do Jedda Do 7:58 am 21 May 18

Also be aware that gum trees can just fall over when they die; potentially knocking our half of someone's dream home. I'd lodge the tree damaging application too.

Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 7:08 am 21 May 18

Let's just cut down all trees everywhere now because the government removed trees that were past their use by date for a light rail project?

But what they said above. Lodge a tree damaging activity application.

(I wish I had a yard big enough for a gum tree to grow in.)

Bec Moroney Bec Moroney 6:55 am 21 May 18

Be aware ..its about $20,000 fine if you cut it down without permission ...and they find out. We had the same problem. We wanted to flip our house design but ...shocking ...a big gum tree in the way. Only thing you can do is get an arborist to come and check to see if your tree is diseased.

Cara Ann Cara Ann 12:56 am 21 May 18

Apply to the ACT Government for permission to undertake a ‘tree damaging activity’. We did for our new property and got permission to remove the tree with no problem. We found them to be entirely reasonable.

Suzanne Tunks Suzanne Tunks 12:04 am 21 May 18

If the tree has been saved, it's for good reason. Be kind to it. Get a creative architect and make your dream home even better by incorporating it in the plans 😊

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 10:12 pm 20 May 18

I have a neighbor who has a fluffy block...he had a lovely birch tree....he just called in a tree guy and cut it down...

Ed N Joanne Towner Ed N Joanne Towner 9:47 pm 20 May 18

Hassle your local Member big time Squeaky wheel gets the oil. Or ring Chief Ministers talkback on friday morning and complain.

JimCharles JimCharles 9:18 pm 20 May 18

Have you considered building a tree house ?

Scott Welsh Scott Welsh 9:16 pm 20 May 18

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission 😂

Grimm Grimm 6:34 pm 20 May 18

A few large copper nails and a few months….

Remove section of bark. Drill 12-15mm hole. Fill with undiluted brush off. Glue bark back over hole.

Ridiculous that removing one tree from a residential block is so hard. Thank your local watermelon party.

K_c24 K_c24 12:17 pm 20 May 18

What’s the worst case if the tree was to be removed without permission i.e how much is the fine/what other conditions might they impose? Alternatively, could the tree “fall over” in the next large storm? Depending on how far you are prepared to bend your own morales, there’s ways to deal with it. Otherwise, maybe seek the assistance of a solicitor or sell up and move on. Was the status of the tree not part of the sale contract; we’ve pulled out of a property purchase for this reason as we couldn’t get a reasonable gauge on the chances of being allowed to remove the tree.

random random 11:47 am 20 May 18

I’m sorry to hear about your circumstance but have to side with TCCS on this.
You willingly accepted certain responsibilities and risks when you chose to purchase via auction. You bought a block with a tree on it without checking whether that tree was protected. That was an unfortunate error on your part but you have no-one else to blame. The tree register is publicly available on the TCCS website.

Suggested options for you are:

1. Build a smaller house or a house in a different configuration (e.g. build upwards, forego a garage or some other space)
2. Sell the block to someone else

You might try pursuing a stamp duty concession to take the sting out of buying a new property elsewhere, but I would be surprised if you were successful.

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