Monday, August 24

Neighbourly concerns

The market for villas and townhouses must be looking up in my neighbourhood. People are moving into units which had been empty for a year or two since construction. At the same time, redevelopment notices are starting to appear in front of shabby little fibro cottages on big blocks – of which there's no shortage around Woy Woy.

The other day, we received notice of a plan to demolish the little place next door to build two big villas.

Not long after, a near-neighbour popped a letter into our box. Would we support her objection to the redevelopment because it would take out a magnificent jacaranda tree? We replied by email:

We read your note with mixed feelings. We have lived here for 35 years, and it's where we brought up our four children.

We will be sad to see the removal of the big jacaranda next door. It was well grown when we moved in here.

We know you were fascinated as you watched a pair of currawongs raise three offspring in it last year. We'd been wondering whether we'd see the same this year, but it seems that won't happen now.

However, we went on to say:

So you can see we have an attachment to the old trees. But it would not be in our best interests to support heritage orders preventing their removal.

Ian is almost 71 and Merry turns 68 this month. We have no plans to move, but ill health or an inability to maintain the garden could force us to do so. Perhaps it will be in a few years, perhaps it would be another decade. When we have to move, we too will expect to receive a price which reflects the redevelopment potential of our block – and a tree preservation order would diminish that value.

The quality of the final years of our lives may depend on the price we receive.

Please do not take offence at our refusal to support you.

In reply, our near-neighbour emailed:

Thanks very much for your reply. I totally understand your situation.

I will be lodging a complaint on my own behalf as I love looking out at the jacaranda tree when I am at the kitchen sink, in my dining room, or just passing through my villa. It's actually my only view
because of the high colorbond fence. I love the way the sun reflects on the leaves, and of course I love watching the currawongs in spring. It's one of the reasons I purchased my villa.

Unfortunately too many trees have been removed in Woy Woy in recent years, and I would prefer that this one stays.

After such a polite exchange of views, Merry and I didn't have the heart to tell her about the tree which once grew where her villa now stands.


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