Council says hedge removal at Milang was necessary, while acknowledging consultation mishaps

Hedge removed: The unseemly sight following the removal of a century old hedge at Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens. Photo: Greg Hopgood via Facebook.
Hedge removed: The unseemly sight following the removal of a century old hedge at Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens. Photo: Greg Hopgood via Facebook.

The destruction of a 99-year-old Cypress hedge lining the Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens was necessary according to Alexandrina Council, who said pruning could not have alleviated issues with the hedge without destroying it.

Veterans and community members were left devastated after a portion of the hedge was torn up by the council on Wednesday, June 24.

About 50 metres of the hedge which lines the gardens on the corner of Ameroo Ave and Coxe Street was uprooted.

An Alexandrina Council spokesperson said the hedge was removed to assist with visibility at the intersection and because it "had impeded the footpath by over a metre".

The spokesperson said any pruning efforts to remedy these issues, would have destroyed the hedge.

"It [the hedge] was at such a thickness it could not be pruned back sufficiently to alleviate sight issues, without destroying the hedge," the spokesperson said.

The hedge pictured in 2015 before it was uprooted. Photo: Bryan Cole via Monument Australia.

The hedge pictured in 2015 before it was uprooted. Photo: Bryan Cole via Monument Australia.

The council has also acknowledged a failure to adequately consult with the community over the decision to remove the hedge.

"Community consultation was not to the standard expected of the Milang community for a matter of local cultural and historical importance," the council spokesperson said.

"Since the removal of the hedge, Mayor Keith Parkes has met with RSL Milang members to discuss how we can mitigate the situation and progress a solution.

"As a priority, council will be engaging landscape architect consultants to provide concept design options to reinstate the area.

"We will continue our discussions with RSL members in the development of the concept designs. Once the RSL is supportive of a design, the concept plan will be provided publically so as to engage community and encourage feedback."

The council spokesperson said once consultation was complete and a plan was agreed upon, works would commence as quickly as possible.

A review of council's processes regarding community consultation is also underway.

"Council are committed to working with the RSL to continue to beautify the memorial garden," the council spokesperson said.

"Council will continue to keep the community informed about the project, and upcoming community consultation via its website."

The 50 metre portion of hedge was removed on the right of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens entrance at Milang. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

The 50 metre portion of hedge was removed on the right of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens entrance at Milang. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

Speaking to The Times last week, President of the Strathalbyn RSL Sub Branch Cate Goodall, said veterans and the wider Milang community were disappointed the hedge had been removed without any form of consultation.

"It has appeared to have occurred without any community consultation," Ms Goodall said.

"If there was community consultation, it did not include the RSL or anyone who had been previously involved in the development of those lovely gardens."

Ms Goodall said to see an entire section of the hedge removed on one side of the entrance gate was "shattering".

"There were better ways to have done this and I don't believe the excuse of public safety, that you can't see around the corner," Ms Goodall said.

"It's a disappointing argument for something that should of had some degree of historical consideration before it was removed categorically."