Huge tree for every backyard in south-west growth area under new plan
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Huge tree for every backyard in south-west growth area under new plan

Every residential lot in a major urban growth area of Sydney will be required to have at least one eight-metre-high tree in the backyard and one five-metre tree in the front yard.

The NSW government's greening strategy is part of its target to have at least 40 per cent tree canopy cover in the slated Wilton precincts, south of Campbelltown, under a plan that seeks to bolster climate resilience of plants and animals in the area, which is also home to a unique koala population.

An artist's impression of Wilton Greens, one of the planned communities.

An artist's impression of Wilton Greens, one of the planned communities.

Tree physiologist Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, from Western Sydney University's School of Social Sciences, said the requirement for large trees in front and rear yards would promote cooling, social cohesion and mental health.

"It's providing an urban landscape that is transformed but is not violated," Dr Pfautsch said. "You’re not living in a concrete or tin desert, but in a modern suburb that has more green space to offer."

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But a developer group has criticised the draft control plan, saying a large tree in every front and rear yard would be an impost on buyers, who would be forced to maintain them, face structural and fire risks, depleted solar access, and higher insurance premiums.

Paddocks along Picton Road, Wilton, where the future residential development is proposed.

Paddocks along Picton Road, Wilton, where the future residential development is proposed.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Urban Development Institute of Australia's NSW vice president Stephen McMahon said there was also no way of ensuring their protection on private land, but putting them on public land would foster community investment.

"People love trees, just not in their own backyards," said Mr McMahon, who is also involved in developing the Wilton town centre as part of the Cameron Brae property group. "They need to be located in the correct place for their guaranteed survival."

A Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson said native trees would be planted across the growth area "to create and maintain a greener, leafier and cooler neighbourhood" and help deliver on Premier Gladys Berejiklian's priority of planting 1 million trees by 2022.

The spokesperson also said the proposed controls, which are now being finalised following a period of consultation, would vary based on lot size. Up to 15,000 homes are proposed as part of the development.

An illustration of residential street frontages in the draft control plan.

An illustration of residential street frontages in the draft control plan.

The spokesperson said developers would be responsible for planting trees, but they did not need to be at the mature height by the time the development was completed.

The 40 per cent target is reflective of a Greater Sydney Commission goal for tree canopies to cover that proportion of urban areas by 2056.

The future development is also near a planned koala reserve set aside by the state government to protect south-west Sydney's healthy but vulnerable koala population.

A map of the Wilton growth area, south of Campbelltown.

A map of the Wilton growth area, south of Campbelltown.

A spokesperson from the Office of the NSW Government Architect, which also adopts the 40 per cent target in its Greener Places draft guide, said the goal was based on specific land use types and would not breach bushfire hazard reduction advice, following criticism from the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

Dr Pfautsch said the requirements for eight- and five-metre trees didn't go far enough in terms of urban cooling, with tree canopies needing to sit above roofs of homes of two more more storeys.

"If they’re serious about it then you need to look at even taller trees, because there's where you get the really large canopies," he said, adding canopy width was also a crucial measurement.

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