We don’t want to be another Gregory Hills: Campbelltown Council

Dude, where's the trees: There's plenty of shrubs in Gregory Hills, but not a whole lot of trees.
Dude, where's the trees: There's plenty of shrubs in Gregory Hills, but not a whole lot of trees.

Campbelltown Council is taking steps to ensure new developments don’t become hot “ovens” like Gregory Hills.

And the initiative has the support of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

The Camden suburb of Gregory Hills consists of hundreds of rooftops, gravel roads and very few trees – a classic example of an urban heat island.

The islands are used to describe developed areas that “trap heat” and are significantly hotter – anywhere from 2-12 degrees Celsius warmer – than surrounding areas. 

“It’s where there is lots of black asphalt, footpaths and houses, but not enough greenery,” Campbelltown councillor Ben Moroney (Greens) said.

“The (dark surfaces) trap heat and make hot days feel hotter.

“Gregory Hills is built like a lot of other areas that have urban heat island effects. You’ve got a couple of shrubs, lawns and black road surfaces. It’s like an oven.”

Campbelltown Council recently installed three weather stations throughout Campbelltown which will be used to monitor urban heat island impacts that may occur as a result of development in the city.

Cr Moroney said there wasn’t one foolproof solution to prevent the islands from occurring. Rather it was a combination more trees, lighter coloured roofs and footpaths.

Rooftop gardens – a concept Cr Moroney has championed for Campbelltown – could also play a major role.

“It’s important to make sure our city is still liveable,” he said.

Dartwest Developments general manager David Taylor defended the suburb and its layout. He said 40 hectares of the 235 hectare site had been retained as open space.

“The three key parks have been masterplanned to retain existing trees,” he said.

“In contrast to other developments, (Gregory Hills) parks have 50-year-old trees not sucklings that will grown into trees in 50 years.”

Mr Taylor said it wasn’t practical to plant mature trees that were already embedded elsewhere outside homes, though at least one younger tree was planted on the nature-strip outside each new home when construction had finished.

The City of Sydney has been all too aware of the urban heat island effect.

In April 2015, the City of Sydney adopted a green walls and green roofs policy which aimed to combine vegetation and development to cool down the city.

Last year a section of Sydney pavement was ripped up and replaced with a paler colour as part of a trial to combat the urban heat island effect.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore told the Advertiser green spaces had been a passion of hers for years.

“We’ve planted more than 9000 street trees since 2004, replaced more than 4000 square metres of concrete traffic islands with plant-filled median strips and we’ve invested in our public gardens,” she said.

“These green spaces are not just beautiful, they also absorb heat, minimising the heat island affect on hot summer days.

“Green roofs add character and life to buildings and draw city-dwellers closer to nature.

“Many residents and workers use the 37 publicly accessible green roofs to eat their lunch or relax above the city’s streets surrounded by lush green plants and trees.

“There are around 86 buildings with green roofs or walls in place, with many more in the development pipeline.”

Cr Moore encouraged Campbelltown to follow the City of Sydney’s lead.

“While there are big differences in topography and the weather between the east and west of our city, there is a lot our councils can learn from each other,” she said.

“I look forward to seeing what new and innovative approaches Campbelltown City Council establishes to create wonderful new green spaces.”

This story We don’t want to be another Gregory Hills first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.