Contractors engaged by City Of Newcastle are in Cooks Hill this morning as work begins to remove fig trees that have strangled underground drains, buckled footpaths and blocked the release of stormwater into the harbour.
The tree removal, which will take place over the next three days, is the first step in a project to renew Council Street between Darby and Bruce streets by replacing and upsizing drainage, footpaths, roadway, kerbs and gutters, and improving road safety.
Part of the project includes planting 17 new street trees to replace the troublesome figs.
CEO Jeremy Bath said Council appreciates the Cooks Hill 'sense of place' that residents and visitors value and enjoy, especially the expansive canopy of large, mature fig trees.
"Unfortunately we have to remove the figs to deliver the rehabilitation of ageing water, drainage, utility, road and footpath infrastructure," Mr Bath said.
"Also, fig trees make much better park trees than they do street trees. Their shallow but wide root systems choke drains, raise footpaths and cause foreseeable and unacceptable risk to people and property, which we need to mitigate.
"We will replace the figs with street trees that are much better suited to the Council Street environment, and the final outcome will be a completely new streetscape with better amenity for all."
An independent landscape architect was engaged to propose replacement tree species most appropriate for the narrow street with minimal to no property setbacks and recommended deciduous tree species that would provide shade in summer and sunshine in winter.
Residents with trees in front of their properties were invited to choose the 17 new street trees from suitable species including Crepe Myrtle, Callery Pear and Black Gum.
Council workers will be attending the site immediately following the tree removal to cover tree stumps with asphalt to provide parking until further works commence in April 2018.