Tuesday, August 2, 2011

History of the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust

Australia’s First Civic Trust: a community focused on preserving its environment & heritage.

On a fine spring day in 1963, residents of one of Beecroft's many attractive tree-lined streets noted a number of long timber poles lying on the road verge, and a number of very deep holes dug ready to receive the poles. Several engineering-wise residents of the street realised that the poles were for high tension electricity mains, the erection of which would mean cutting down, or at the least, ruination of a number of fine gum trees lining the street.

Overnight the affected residents were alerted and the Sydney County Council, the electricity supply authority concerned, was inundated with requests to divert its supply line to save the trees. Local Members of Parliament became involved, the press sent its reporters and photographers, and feeling ran so high that Departmental engineers held a street meeting with the residents on the site.

The result - a simple solution. It was found that with very minor variations to cable lay-out, and the pruning of only a few branches, the line could still go through as intended, sparing the trees and the character of the street - and the expense of tree felling was saved. More importantly, it led to the formation of the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust (BCCT) in 1964.

This, Australia's first Civic Trust, has done much since its foundation, to put the case to both State and Local Government as well as to Statutory Authorities for the survival of what remains of our passive and defenceless natural beauty and for the citizen who wishes to continue to enjoy this natural beauty and other desirable civic amenities.

The Trust was formally incorporated under the New South Wales Incorporation Act of 1984 on 5 December 1988    
Extract from BCCT constitution

As a practicing Horticulturist, Landscape Architect and Consultant Arborist it has been a privilege to be elected by the Beecroft Cheltenham community to serve for the past 5 years as a voluntary member of the BCCT Committee.

The elected 10 members of the BCCT Committee provide expertise in Law, Architecture, Planning, Science, Real Estate and Property, Engineering, Education Business Management, Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, Arboriculture and Surveying.

My specific role within the committee is to deal with Development and Housing matters with a specific focus on the horticultural, landscape, arboricultural and natural environment concerns.

The sub-committee receives throughout each month from Hornsby Shire Council copies of Development Applications lodged within the 2119 post code areas, and is invited to view the application and appended plans / reports and make comments on the application in a written submission to Council by a notification end date within 14-21 days.

To address the above it involves site inspections and assessment of:

·         All proposed development sites, report writing and correspondence in some cases related to objections or non compliance with statuary planing codes applicable to the proposed development
·         Impact on remnant stands of Critically Endangered Ecological Community plantings of Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Iron Bark Forest.
·         Significant planting of native vegetation introduced to the locality
·         Heritage and significant plantings that are of a Cultural valve to the community
·         Street and Habitat trees
·         Riparian corridors and waterways

Council Planning Meetings are attended monthly where necessary to address the Councillors and the Executive Officers with regard to lending support to applications or to expand objections to poor and over development, loss of trees, impact on heritage sites, waterways and environmental  matters before the Council.

The sub-committee of the Trust assists when requested by Council with Development Application before the Land and Environment Court of NSW to provide expert witness evidence in the areas of Horticulture, Arboriculture and Landscape Design.

The tasks performed by the Trust are constant and demanding but in the end very rewarding, knowing that we are leaving future generations with a community built on a strong stewardship towards preserving a small yet important fragment our of natural environment and heritage.

Stuart Pittendrigh MAIH, FAILA, M.Arb. Australia
Consultant Horticulturist, Registered Landscape Architect & Registered Consultant Arborist

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