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Duffy says business owners have ''burst into tears" over "fiasco"; says tree design was "misleading"

November 24, 2022

An artist's impression of new trees outside Blowes Real Estate on the corner of Lords Place and Kite Street. Supplied.

By Peter Holmes

In an artist's illustration for the controversial $1.4 million Lords Place south makeover, two new trees that appear to be outside Blowes Real Estate looked mature and impressively proportioned.

The real estate agency is on the corner of Lords Place and Kite Street, and currently there are no trees outside it on either road.

One design showed two trees the same height as the Blowes Real Estate building.

When councillors voted on October 18 to endorse the makeover - which would see trees cut down and replaced, new dining pods and seating areas, and at least 23 parking spots taken (from a pre-makeover total of 67) - the illustrations were one of the key elements in allowing them to envision what the street would look like after the construction work had concluded.

The two new trees outside Elwood's. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

But on Thursday afternoon there were no trees outside Blowes Real Estate, and no sign that any were on the way.

There were, however, two new trees outside Elwood's barbecue joint, but neither had the heft of the specimens in the illustrations. Indeed, they looked nothing at all like the illustrations, and would take years to grow into something that resembled the digital art.

However another piece of artwork (below, red arrows added) supplied to councillors showed the trees as being positioned slightly further down Lords Place, but again they were drawn as being more bountiful than the reality.

"The whole process is a fiasco," councillor Kevin Duffy told The Orange News Examiner on Thursday night. "To me it’s how to stab your residents and ratepayers in the back, especially the elderly.

"One of the criteria [of the redesign] is to promote economic stimulus, [but] some businesses have been decimated in this process. I have had business owners burst into tears over this."

He added: "The design trees are misleading, they are not even the height promised. Not even the same shape."

Duffy said locals were questioning why the "the original, healthy trees and their root systems" needed to be removed at all.

He described the late-night chopping down of trees as "The Lords Place Massacre of Good Healthy Trees".

On November 15 council staff wrote to businesses on Lords Place.

"Below is some detail on tree sizes in response to some questions raised about the information contained in the concept plan and the trees that will be planted. "The concept plan said the trees would be approximately 4m tall:

"Once the trees were secured, we updated the FAQ section of the website with more detail:

  • The 12 Red Ash we have been able to source are all over that 4m mark with some up to 6m.

  • There are 7 Field Maples at 3.5m and up to 4m.

  • The remaining three maples are around 3m tall.

"Council approached several nurseries as per our procurement guidelines and these were the largest trees that could be sourced."

Proprietor Gary Blowes recently told The Orange News Examiner the redevelopment had not been properly thought out.

An artist's illustration for the Lords Place makeover suggested there could be two large trees outside Blowes Real Estate, but as our photo shows, the closest trees are further down outside Elwood's. Digitally altered.

With confusion over the number of parking spaces to be lost, after council said some spots may have been included in designs incorrectly, councillor Duffy said the method appeared to be "whatever numbers comes out of a hat".

And he said it was "totally wrong to use Ophir Car Park as a weapon of support when there has been no comprehensive EIS (environmental impact statement) study on site".

"The whole Blackmans Swamp was full of waterholes. Any thing could turn up - Indigenous artefacts or ancestral [remains]."

He expressed concern about jaywalkers, saying that since the changes to Lords Place north the numbers had increased.

Read more of The Orange News Examiner's coverage the Lords Place redevelopment here.

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