Jamie Durie under fire over plans to build six storey 'monstrosity'

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Jamie Durie’s dreams of knocking down a 1960s cottage and native trees to build a sprawling waterfront mansion for his family have been hit by a major setback.

The celebrity garden guru and former Backyard Blitz host has copped backlash over plans to transform his waterfront lot at Avalon Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches by knocking down the original home to build a six storey ‘family home’ for about $2.9million.

Durie’s development application included a proposal to remove 17 native trees, sparking a series of community objections to the local council.

The household name spent Monday in full damage control defending his plans in several television interviews, claiming an arborist’s report missing from the submission to council sparked a misunderstanding.

But fallout from the saga continues to rage with Northern Beaches Council now revising his DA and recommending Durie amend the design of his proposed home to protect more trees.

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The council has reportedly issued a ‘landscape referral response’ ordering Durie submit an ­alternative layout and building design.

The council report recommends 13 of the 26 trees stay, including six which have ‘moderate value’.

Five she oaks have ‘low value’ while three privet trees and a sweet pittosporum have been given the green light to be torn out.

The DA will be referred to the Local Planning Panel.

‘Council considers issues raised in public submissions regarding development applications in the assessment of each matter and advice from specialist officers is sought as part of the assessment process,’ council chief executive Ray Brownlee told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.

‘This DA will be referred to the LPP for determination when the assessment of the application has been completed.

‘At this stage we do not have a time frame in which it will go to the LPP.’

Durie’s six storey proposal consists of six bedrooms, swimming pool, two-car garage, music studio and media room, a lift down to the kids’ play area and yoga gym.

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Durie claims those who opposed the proposal haven’t read a arborist’s report which had been missing from the council submission, which stated the number of trees that would be removed had been reduced from 17 to nine.

The report was added to the online DA on the council’s website on Monday, along with Durie’s submission of the revised plans.

‘We are adjusting and reducing the footprint of our build, both to reduce scale, further articulate the facades and to protect the existence of the significant trees of value,’ the submission states.

He has promised to revise the redevelopment plans but says some of the unhealthy trees on the property need to be knocked down due to termite infestation. 

‘There’s been a group of new environmentalists standing in front of the house and protecting noxious weeds,’ Durie told the A Current Affair.

‘I was mortified when I read some of the submissions.’  

‘I think if some of the new environmentalists that were standing out on the street knew that they were actually standing here preventing environmental weeds from being taken down that had now turned into trees, they’d be a little embarrassed.’

The former Manpower stripper, who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said he wants the community to be just as proud of the redeveloped home as he will be. 

The council has received at least 32 objections to the proposal, with residents expressing concerns the development will set a precedent that would gradually see most native trees in the area chopped down.

‘We’re going to end up like the eastern suburbs with mini RSLs and concrete everywhere,’ resident Miranda Korzy told the program.

‘I don’t want to make an example of Jamie Durie … I think people are, because they come in, they don’t know what the area was like before, they don’t realise how much we’re losing.’

Kylie Hebts, who lives across the road from Durie’s property, said: ‘It’s a little bit of LA and Double Bay combined to be honest.

‘The thought of so many trees coming out, it really feels like we should be planning for a funeral.’ 

Earlier on Monday, Durie described the saga as a ‘unfortunate chain of events’ and has sent letters to neighbours to clarify the situation 

‘People have assumed that I’m pulling out a lot of native trees when, actually, some of these are weeds,’ he told Today Extra.

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‘They’re actually noxious weeds, they’re privet, some of them are affected with termites, some of them have bora, some of them have die-back. 

‘When you read the tree report, you’ll understand that some of these trees have actually been marked for removal without our home being built.’

He added 1518 native and endemic species have been planted on and around the property.

‘We’ve rectified the issue and I have sent a letter to all the neighbours and the council explaining what happening and so hopefully they will see with our new plans,’ Durie said.

‘I hear them loud and clear and rest assured, we’ll be putting plenty of plants into the ground.’ 

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Neighbour John Sheehan, a former acting judge of the Land and Environment Court, described the proposal as ‘fatally flawed’ and is concerned it would have ‘serious and irreversible impacts on biodiversity values’.

Another neighbour said the proposed dwelling was out of character with the adjoining dwellings which respect the topography and the vegetation of their sites.

‘It is a gross overdevelopment in this location given the character of the area and the adjoining properties,’ their submission stated.

‘It must be redesigned by an architect to reduce its site coverage, to retain all the significant trees, to pull back from the waterfront in order to stay well within the foreshore building line, and to reduce its excessive size.’

Another expressed grave concerns the development will set an alarming precedent for future development in the area if approved.

Local heritage and preservation bodies also objected to the development with concerns that it’s out of character for the area, will threaten wildlife and ‘would overwhelm its environmentally sensitive block’.

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association said the proposal would have a detrimental effect on the movement of wildlife in the vicinity and doesn’t reflect the ecological and aesthetic values of the area. 

‘Council should take into consideration the cumulative effect that developments such as this would have on the canopy trees which are critical to the character of the Avalon area,’ their submission states.

‘If this and other such developments are allowed to continue then, over time, the tree canopy which gives Avalon its character will disappear.’

The Avalon Preservation Association added: ‘The current trend of proposing very large dwellings on environmentally sensitive blocks and consequently destroying much of the native vegetation on the block while a small effect taken individually, constitutes ‘death by a thousand cuts’ when taken as the new norm.’

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Durie has since  submitted a revised development application for the block, which he purchased for $2.3m five years ago, includes the removal of only nine trees.

‘After strong consideration of your comments we have decided to amend our current DA as we are flexible in our approach,’ the horticulturalist wrote.

‘The amendments to the design reduce the footprint and preserve additional native trees.’ 

Durie and fiancée Ameka Foster welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Beau in July.

He has another daughter Taylor, 26, from a previous relationship. 

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