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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Planter boxes on borrowed time

THE unpopular planter boxes in Burnett St may soon be a thing of the past. The Derwent Valley Council last week agreed to an investigation into various options for the removal of the boxes and the relocation of the trees planted in them.

Cr Damian Bester said the planter boxes had been a major issue during the recent council election campaign, with frequent calls for their removal. "The main issue of concern appears to have been the placement of the boxes (and their large stature) into the middle of the road rather than at the edges of the carriageway," he told last week's council meeting.

Councillors voted unanimously to endorse Cr Bester's plan of action for the appropriate council staff to investigate:

  • The incorporating of the relocation and replacement of the planter boxes into the forthcoming resurfacing of Burnett St.
  • The removal and storage of the planter boxes for re-use elsewhere.
  • The replanting of the trees into circular pots (such as an up-ended concrete pipe of suitable diameter).
  • The installation of the circular pots in the ground if it can be shown this will not result in future root-damage to the road surface.
  • The installation of the circular pots at the edge of the road, straddling the footpath and the carriageway.
  • The total number of trees available for planting/replanting.
  • The cost of the above proposals.
  • The impact of this proposal on the grant funds originally received for the project.
Cr Bester said his main concern with the boxes was not their appearance, but their safety. In particular, the height of the planter boxes posed a danger to both motorists and pedestrians - children in particular.

Deputy Mayor Craig Farrell agreed with the proposal and said it was the correct process to follow. He said there had been some benefits associated with the installation of the boxes, in that they had caused people to drive more slowly and carefully. They also provided a refuge in the middle of the road, he said. "It has not been all bad, but it certainly could be improved upon," Cr Farrell said. He said the experience had also highlighted a problem with parking in Burnett St and this must also be addressed.

Cr James Graham said Cr Bester had provided a "fantastic document to springboard from". "A lot of the people who voted for me were in my earhole about Burnett St," Cr Graham said. "This is not about undoing everything, it is not looking for blame."

"Cr Bester has hit the nail on the head," was the opinion of Cr Scott Shaw, who said three out of every four people he spoke to during the election campaign had wanted the planter boxes removed.

"I agree with all this," Cr Barry Lathey said. "I struck the same thing when standing for election." Cr Lathey bravely said he had to accept some of the blame, as he had voted in favour of the original proposal. "They are too big and have become a hazard. They have been successful in slowing traffic, but I don't know how there hasn't been a major accident," he said. "The majority of the public don't want them and it's pretty plain why."

Cr Narelle Molan said it had been hoped the planter boxes would make it easier for small cars to access places such as the council car park at Woolworths, but the opposite had occurred.

Cr Judy Bromfield endorsed Cr Molan's view and recalled her own near-miss when a collision was narrowly avoided. "It is an eyesore," Cr Bromfield said. "Three different committees looked at this and we still got it wrong," she said.

Cr Bester thanked his colleagues for their support of his proposal and said he looked forward to the streetscape works being modified for the benefit of all users of the thoroughfare.


  1. It's great to read that the council are finally moving forward on an issue that is of concern to the community, albeit a small one in some peoples eyes. Having to dodge these boxes every day on my way to & from work is a nightmare, made worse by the total lack of regard of fellow drivers who continually park over driveways up & down Burnett St. As part of the plan to refurbish the street may I suggest putting in allocated parking bays & making it clear the parking across a driveway is not acceptable. In the past I have been told to call the police who then tell me to call the council. Its a joke that no-one wants to take responsibility for the parking mess that is New Norfolk. I don't know how many fully-abled people I've seen parking in the disabled parking spots or cars in the taxi zone at the corner of High & Burnett. I even saw a police park there once & go into Subway. What's the point of rules if there isn't anybody to police them? (and who would book the cop?)

  2. > main concern...their safety
    I have realised that you are correct, having large rectangular objects in the middle of the road is dangerous. I think once council has removed the planter boxes they should go one step further and address the remaining problem of the moving large square objects in Burnett Street and turn the whole street into a traffic-free pedestrian mall. Then the safety and unobstructed views of our pedestrians will be assured.

  3. Councilor Bromfield says three different committees looked at this and still, they got it wrong. Isn't that an admission that committees are not the way to go? If they all get the wrong answers? Instead of gas bagging around for months or years how about getting people who can do the job onto it? The people who are on these committees are wasting everyone's time if they cant get the right answers.