18 May 2018

Ask RiotACT: Regulated trees on Mr Fluffy blocks

| AJ
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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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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.

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.


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.

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…

Have you considered building a tree house ?

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.

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.

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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