Update and history of Cowley Street Ormiston – Vacant lots 3 – 53 Cowley Street Ormiston

Upon being elected in 2008 I commenced working with local residents to protect these parcels of land.

Unfortunately these vacant blocks have been in private ownership and zoned residential since 1886, not Council owned open space as many residents had presumed.

Having so many lots in one parcel remain untouched, while the surrounding land was previously sub-divided , had allowed mature koala food trees to remain and become a vital feeding and breeding area for the Ormiston urban Koala population.

Over the past decade I had lobbied to secure protection for this valuable urban habitat through various methods however there was not sufficient support hence my fury and frustration with what has occurred in Cowley Street,  due to this known and acknowledged value of this vegetation.

Over the years,  I have written and met with State Members, documented meetings since 2008, have sent letters to Federal and State Ministers and lobbied Redland City Councillors to protect these blocks in an attempt to prevent such an  outcome as we have recently witnessed.  Koala Action Group and residents have worked with me over these years and the recent events  have affected  the local residents,  most importantly the wildlife and myself.

I have previously completed a timeline and now have updated, so if you would like further clarification on the history on the lots please see following timeline.


Cowley Street Cr Wendy Boglary

Date

Action

15th October 2008 After consultation with local residents I started a process to place protection on the trees Discussions were had with the Koala Action Group with suggestions that recommendations would be forwarded to the Koala Taskforce.
3rd November 2008 Officers are Drafting a report for council to save the land
6th November 2008 Arranging a petition with community to save Cowley Street
19th December 2008 I wrote to investigate the present owner’s intentions for the land and also met with then State MP Phil Weighman.
   
17 April 2015 Enquiry about changing zoning to conservation as workshops were being held in regards to the drafting of the new City Plan and also enquired and lobbied in regards to Council investigating purchasing the land
2016 Emails from residents asking to save the trees.  Working through City Plan in Council to try and have protection included in the Plan’s revision  that will impact these lots with protection or a zone change.  Low residential zone to conservation. 
27-01-2016 Enquiry about placing Environmental Protection Orders ( VPO’s ) on the vegetation and  continued discussions re draft City Plan environmental protection zones and overlays. 
2-11-2017 Though no application lodged enquiry about development on the 26 lots – zoned urban residential, intended for dwelling houses.  Possibly land for sale.
18-01-2018 Discussion re acquisitions  
6th June 2018 3-53 Cowley Street, Ormiston – discussion re Rezone lots  from Low Density Residential in the draft City Plan to Conservation or part Low Density Residential/ part Conservation  
23rd August 2018 Confidential land valuation

 

 
10th October 2018 Cowley Street change in Planning Scheme – I lobbied for support to have the zoning changed to conservation during the City Plan workshops. This change of zoning was not supported by the majority of Councillors.
October 2018 City Plan adopted – I voted against the Plan as in my opinion Environmental Protection over the City including our valuable City wide environmental corridors was decreased and allowed gaps in the City’s environmental protection.  (also several other concerns  one being density increase)
20th March 2019 Email to Residents – see letter below to give residents knowledge of the lots.

 

20th March 2019

 

Dear Residents,

 

Please excuse that I have blind copied several residents into this email.  Many of you have already contacted me and others I have included as I know or thought you may be interested in Cowley Street.

Recently there has been activity on or near these lots.

My initial enquiries discovered that:-

·         Council had carried out shoulder maintenance work picked up on our regular inspections

·         Council also had surveyors on site for routine update of mapping programs.

 

When I was first contacted by residents regarding activity on these lots this was all the information I had received so thought the surveyors were Councils.   After having seen the pegs etc now on the blocks I asked our Council officers again last week and they investigated further  at the site.

They think a private surveyor has been on the lots and has surveyed the existing lots hence the markers.   This update concerned me greatly as I have had various phone calls and emails  received…thank you.

This area has always been subdivided but the owner simply left vacant so there was no requirement to come to council for this recent work as there was no subdivision required, simply existing blocks.

To this moment I have heard nothing official concerning this block however with the recent works on the lots I have concerns as these valuable trees have no protection.

History of these lots:-

·         This land is zoned low density residential – this is historical no new change

·         Under the previous Redlands planning Scheme however there was a Koala Habitat Overlay covering the area which would have resulted in development conditions if there was removal of trees.

·         Under the new City Plan, adopted by Council October 2018 (I did not vote in favour of the Plan) the Koala Habitat Overlay was removed and these lots are not mapped with the Environment Significance Overlay due to the methodology used to generate the overlay, lots less than 1000m2 with a Low Density Residential zoning were “clipped”, which means not included.  Therefore there is now no protection on these trees and I cannot see any protection mechanism for this vegetation.

·         The area has been recognised and on scientifically based environmental values is included in a high value Coastal Foreshore Environmental Corridor.  These coastal corridors are a high priority for protection and rehabilitation however the work identifying the corridors was not placed into the City Plan for protection in the 2018 City Plan revision. ( I have been lobbying since 2015 to have the then existing Redland Planning Scheme recognition and the new Corridor Strategy included in the new City Plan. On a positive note :- Recently 6 Councillors supported an amendment package to the new City Plan to be sent to the State Gov. to seek permission to go out for public consultation to allow some of the recognised corridors to be included in the City Plan and this will at least give these areas some level of protection – if it is approved at that stage.)

 

·         RCC Regional Ecosystems 2015 mapping indicates that a large portion of the land contains endangered regional ecosystems in the western and central parts.

·         RCC’s Koala habitat 2015 mapping indicates the site contains significant coverage of koala habitat vegetation

·         The site is identified as an area of koala habitat value with breeding occurring each season.

·         The trees on the site are identified as koala food trees and classified as primary Food Trees or Secondary Food Trees for koalas….including blue gums, ironbark’s, bloodwoods and melaleucas with two areas of regrowth vegetation.

 

Over the years I have asked Council to increase protection of vegetation on these lots by any means available including changing the zoning of these lots.

I have been told previously “these lots are presently not in any threat”.  It was always obvious that one day they would be and I believe now is frighteningly that time.

Being normal house lots they can be sold and houses built on them without coming to Council unless the builder is doing something that isn’t compliant to the City Plan or code assessable.

I have been talking to many people over the last week externally and internally to desperately try and find out more information and I will continue to work for what can be achieved for environmental outcomes.

I will not be writing on Facebook etc at present as I am respectful this is a private persons land and I have to be careful not to under the Local Government Regulations (h) other business for which a public discussion would likely to prejudice the interest of a local government or someone else, or enable a person to gain a financial advantage.

I will be doing all I can and will keep everyone updated.  When and if the time comes I will do a letterbox drop of the area to rally the community.

 

Warm regards,

Wendy Boglary

 

20th March 2019 Council voted to purchase land at Cleveland Point, was hopeful purchase of Cowley Street would also be supported.

Gained support to put forward an Urgent Motion:-

Urgent Business – Land at Ormiston

23 April 2019 Letter to editor by a resident – Not so Famous -re Cowley Street

Redland City Bulletin April 23 2019

Letters to the Editor     Not so famous

https://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/6086165/letters-to-the-editor/

2nd May 2019 Letter to Premier requesting assistance to save to this valuable habitat  
2nd May 2019 Letter also to State Environmental Minister Enoch  
7th May 2019 Reply from Leanne Enoch MP Minister for environment and the Great Barrier Reef  
8th May 2019 Confidential Item General meeting

https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/meetings/meeting/146/2019_council_meeting_minutes_and_agendas

19.2 Purchase of Land – Conservation Purposes, Ormiston – I have asked for Report to be released and not kept confidential.

Officer’s recommendation was to not purchase the land however there was sufficient support to change the recommendation and gain further information in a future report to Council.

Due to the change of the Motion another Report came back to Councillors on the 17th July 2019 but was NOT supported

28th May 2019 I wrote to QYAC to ascertain if there was any First Nation Cultural Significance to the site as locals always thought there was scar tree on site.  I walked the area with Councils Indigenous officer to seek further clarity and advice.
30th May 2019 Media article

Redland City Bulletin May 31 2019 – I contacted the paper with the intent to inform and rally the community

Ormiston resident calls for Redland City plan review to protect koala trees on Cowley Street.

https://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/6099770/review-our-city-plan-resident/
10th June 2019 Letter to Andrew Laming MP seeking support  
13th June 2019 Reply from the Australia Koala Foundation  
13th June 2019 Discussions with Deborah Tabart OAM  chairman Australia Koala Foundation
14th June 2019 Letter to the Federal Minister for the Environment Hon. Susan Ley MP  
12th July 2019 Questions to finance in regards to funds in acquisition land reserve or Environmental Levy funds
15th July 2019 Indicative debt schedule for Cowley Street
16th July 2019 Questions to General manager
17th July 2019

Confidential agenda Item 19.5 Purchase of Land – Conservation Purposes , Ormiston action – asked to be released

https://www.redland.qld.gov.au/meetings/meeting/151/2019_council_meeting_minutes_and_agendas

The officer’s recommendation was to not purchase the land however I put up an alternative Motion to purchase (with constraints and conditions) but this was only supported by three Councillors.

 

   
20th August 2019 Reply from Federal Minister for environment Susan Ley MP
26th August 2019 Wrote to Environmental Defenders Office for advice
02 September 2019 Reply from  Minister of the Environment Leanne Enoch MP
17th September 2019 Spoke to the owners agent to arrange a meeting to discuss Cowley Street
25th September 2019 Redland City Bulletin September 25 2019

Student art on display at RPAC for koala conservation campaign

https://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/6404884/student-art-on-display-for-koala-conservation/
9th October 2019 Meeting with officers re Cowley street
30th October 2019 I met with Christine Cheung Loyal venture to discuss her client’s future intention for Cowley Street. I explained the significance of the area to a population of urban koalas and the importance to our local community.
12th February 2020 I put forward an Urgent motion re vegetation protection In Ormiston

This report came back to Council on the 26th February and was NOT supported.

25th February 2020 Correspondence with Kim Richards MP office
26th February 2020
17th March 2020 Reply from Leanne Enoch Minister for Environment
  Throughout this time I have been lobbying to have the Wildlife Environmental Corridors included into the City Plan (as in 2018 the City Plan was adopted without corridor protection included).  This area is a documented valuable foreshore corridor however the recognition previously given to corridors or the new strategy has not received sufficient support from councillors.   Presently this inclusion in the new 2018 City Plan is under review however this work was to be have completed and included in the adoption of the Plan in 2018 and has remained sufficiently unsupported to progress the works.  
25th November 2020
   
22nd January 2021 Fencing erected to secure lots.  Council staff spoke to contractors who stated trees to be possibly cleared in next week.  
25th January 2021“““““““““““““` Updated this time line and emailed to the many residents who have expressed concern.

Another Facebook post to alert and update  residents

 
25th January 2021 Emailed update:-

Last Friday, 22-01-21, fencing was erected in regards to the vacant lots 3 – 53 Cowley Street Ormiston which contain extremely valuable koala feeding and breeding habitat.

These vacant vegetated lots are in private ownership and records show have been sub divided since 1886.

On Friday, once alerted to the fencing, council staff visited the site and spoke to a contractor associated with the land who stated the tree might be cleared possibly cleared with the next weeks.

This is extremely disheartening news, as though the value of these blocks is recognised ,the land is not protected.

At present there is State Koala Habitat Protection and local Redland City Council Environmental Protection however the lots on Cowley Street fall through the process.

Please see below for reasoning.-

Please see the following points in regards to the State koala habitat mapping and regulations in relation to the vacant lots on Cowley Street:

1.      The new and previous State Koala Habitat Area mapping does map the subject vacant lots on Cowley Street as a koala habitat area (locally refined koala habitat area).

 

2.      The State Koala Regulatory Provisions (Planning Regulation 2017) prohibit clearing of native vegetation where mapped as koala habitat area and in a Koala Priority Area (Redland mainland) unless exempt. Clearing in koala habitat areas of up to 500m2 is exempt. This means that the State regulatory provisions will not apply to clearing the habitat on the subject vacant lots on Cowley Street as the habitat on each lot would be less than 500m2 and would be exempt.

 

In regards to local Council Protection on vegetation:-

 

In 2018 a new City Plan was approved where it was decided that clearing of vegetation would be regulated through the City plan.  The Environmental Significant Overlay was expanded to cover the entire mainland of Redlands.  However in the urban area, such as Cowley Street, lots under <100m2 were clipped out of the overlay protection.  This means the Environmental Significant Overlay does not protect this habitat.

At this stage Local law 6 Protection of Vegetation is still in place and still contains provisions that allow for the declaration of a vegetation protection order.

Sadly there is another however, it should be noted that the Local Government Act prevents local governments from making a local law that establishes an “alternative development process”.  Which effectively means that if the matter, in this case – clearing of vegetation – is dealt with through the planning scheme, it cannot also be dealt with through a Local Law.   Therefore legal advice states that Council could continue to use the local law to protect “other” value that are not “environmental significance” – therefore Local Law cannot be used to protect the habitat on Cowley Street for environmental reason.

A vegetation protection order under local Law 6 could only be declared under another reasoning (which I also investigated)

a)     A valuable part of the natural heritage of the area

b)    M) important for its aesthetic value or its beneficial effect on the amenity of the locality in which it is situated

Both points, in my opinion, were sufficient to place a VPO on the trees of concern however unfortunately was not previously supported.

 

It is very distressing for the wildlife and also the community to see the potential loss of these valuable breeding and feeding trees.

 
27th January 2021 Trees cleared Cowley Street – 2 Koalas spotted in western trees so fenced off.

I contacted the local paper to further advise residents.

29th January 2021

ABS Stephanie Zillman reported on  Koala Habitat destruction…

3rd February 2021 https://wendyboglary.com.au/2021/02/03/cowley-street-koala-habitat-clearing-february-2021/?fbclid=IwAR0vmMuk1e8PobbJFRLsMYbYYdP0rdthKu14XfRkaSQFaSVydYjaLE4ztYQ
 
3rd February 2021
3rd February 2021
6th February 2021
17th February 2021 General Meeting agenda Item 17.1

Notice of Motion Cr Wendy Boglary – Investigation into Purchase of conservation Land Ormiston

17th February 2021

Link to story – (for clarification there were no koalas injured as reported in the story)

https://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/7130903/video-wildlife-activists-protest-outside-council/?cs=2678&fbclid=IwAR1PG3JWhid97Czayqe_Udz8YjyJAo7CBtqUc6XqDL_dXRrFEylBCxKSaRI
17th August 2021 I advised the Bayside Bulletin, residents and the Koala Action Group of updates
17th August 2021
30th August 2021  

 
10th September 2021 I had a meeting with staff to discuss the operational works OPW21/0045 and have asked further questions for an improved outcome for existing residents re retaining walls for southern boundaries.

Details can be found on Redland City Council web site:

http://pdonline.redland.qld.gov.au/pages/xc.track/SearchProperty.aspx?id=1014