Battle of the Cooks Hill figs not over: activists

A CIVIC decision to raze 14 figs in Laman Street has not deterred community campaigners who have vowed to fight the move while ever the trees are in the ground.

Newcastle City Council will, within three months, cut down the trees that form a well-known Cooks Hill boulevard.

The trees will be replaced with new figs, planted in the centre of the street.

This and associated public works will cost about $1.4 million.

The move follows councillors' 7-5 vote on Tuesday night in favour of removing and replacing the figs.

The council's liveable city director Frank Cordingley said yesterday the decision marked a new beginning for the civic and cultural area.

"Replanting Hills figs will help retain the character of the area and provide a scale of tree in keeping with the nature of the precinct," he said.

Preparation will be done in the next four months ready for planting by June.

The existing trees will be turned into mulch for other Hills figs.

Mitigation measures such as closing the street in high winds, banning parking and allowing only one-way traffic will remain in the meantime.

The council is concerned about public safety risk should the existing trees fail.

Protesters have vowed to continue fighting to save the figs, despite the council's decision.

"As long as the trees are still there we may as well keep going," community campaigner Caity Raschke said.

Fellow campaigner and businesswoman Jeanne Walls also remains concerned.

"When we've got a city in transition like we do, with the worst main street in Australia, it's not necessarily visionary to chop down trees," she said.

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