A decision made by a majority of City of Ballarat councillors to ignore council officer recommendations and allow the felling of a landmark tree in Webster Street will be appealed at VCAT, say locals.
The 150-year-old Marri gum stands in front of a reconstructed version of one of the original homes of Webster Street, Glynderwen, which was gradually demolished in a series of planning permit approvals after its sale in 2014.
Council officers recommended the tree be retained after the home's owners and consultants argued it was incompatible with saving a bluestone and iron heritage fence, currently removed.
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Officers argued cutting the tree down would 'contravene objectives seeking to protect areas of natural and cultural significance and would adversely impact upon the established garden setting of the subject site and Webster Street.'
Councillor Belinda Coates put a motion to rejecting the application to fell the tree at a Planning Delegated Committee Meeting in September; however it was defeated five votes to three, with Cr Des Hudson saying the tree would one day die, while the fence might stand 'for 100 years'.
The appeal will be made by concerned ratepayers, who pointed out Marri gums live for up to 450 years.
"We are disappointed councilors chose to ignore their officers," a resident told The Courier.
"What kind of precedent does this set? Ballarat is known for its trees."
The appellants say the councillors' action will cost tens of thousands of dollars, with altered recommendations supporting the removal of the tree now having to be lodged by the City of Ballarat with VCAT.