Housing: We tried to save tuarts

THE high cost of building ‘bespoke’ social housing and an inability to find a contract builder cost Snook Crescent residents two much-loved and giant tuart trees, says the WA communities department.

The department dropped plans by late Fremantle architect Bernard Seeber for 93A Snook which would have retained the tuarts – an important food source for black cockatoos. Neighbours said that was a blatant breach of a memorandum of understanding signed between the department and Fremantle council that allowed greater infill as long as tree canopy was retained. (“Housing deserts MOU,” Herald, November 26, 2022).

This week the department told the Herald it had done all it could to retain the trees.

“In 2020, Communities tendered the Bernard Seeber design, comprising of one two-storey dwelling and one single-storey dwelling,” a department spokesperson said.

“In early 2021 Communities declined to award a contract based on an assessment of the tender due to the very high cost of delivering bespoke design on this lot.

“In July 2021, Communities allocated the project to a design and construct building on its established builders panel and it was agreed by Communities that two single-storey homes would be delivered.

“After an attempt to contract a builder through this panel was unsuccessful, the department made the decision to redesign these two dwellings on site factoring in the current construction market challenges faced across Australia.

“The landscape plan for the site allows for five new mature deciduous trees to be planted on the property, and five new mature mature deciduous trees will be planted on the property to ensure multiple green space and canopy cover.

“The department extensively explored all options to keep the trees however the costs were significant and keeping them would cause a major disruption to the development of social homes for the most vulnerable members of our community.

“Communities adheres to the urban tree canopy coverage target for each locality and a minimum tree canopy coverage of 20 per cent of the development site.”

by STEVE GRANT

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