Development for preservation

The Retford Park Estate project that is now under construction will:
  • Feature outstanding levels of environmental, landscaping and infrastructural values.
  • Secure the Retford Park house and heritage site for the community at large following its gifting by Mr Fairfax to The National Trust of Australia.
  • Provide a new, prestige community in the Bowral area.
  • Ensure the development is cohesive, complementary to the surrounds and adds meaningful and ongoing benefit to the local community.


Click to enlargeClick to enlarge

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What is planned for Retford Park?

Retford Park is one of the Southern Highland’s most historic properties. Its former owner, James Fairfax AC, has secured its future in perpetuity through the gifting of the heritage property to the National Trust and a responsible programme of long-term planning and managed development that will result in an exceptional residential community on land to the east and west of the Retford Park house.

Why is a residential community being developed at Retford Park?

With its deep connections to the history of the Southern Highlands, it has always been the aim of Mr Fairfax that the 33 hectare heritage area surrounding Retford Park house, the gardens and ‘house paddocks’ should be preserved as an important cultural landmark, together with some of the existing furniture and art works.

It is his wish, that, eventually, the property may be utilised for appropriate community events and that the home and gardens be opened periodically to the public so that future generations may share and enjoy its beauty and historical significance.

How will preservation be achieved?

To secure the future of the house and fund the necessary ongoing maintenance of the heritage listed area, a subdivision of the land east and west of the heritage site is under construction.

The successful development of these sites will ultimately provide homes for a new generation of Southern Highland families featuring outstanding levels of environmental, landscaping and infrastructural values.

The eastern site, an area of approximately 30 hectares, is planned for large, rural-inspired lots of between 8,000 m2 and 4 hectares. An initial rezoning application for nine lots was approved by Wingecarribee Shire Council in early 2012.

The western site, an area of approximately 27 hectares is planned as an architecturally designed and landscaped residential estate comprising lots of 1000 m2 and above.

A significant portion of the funds from the sale of land created by the development of these sites has been allocated by Mr Fairfax to be handed over to the National Trust of Australia Foundation to secure the long term preservation of the Retford Park heritage property.

Tree renewal

Retford Park will be noted for its landscape, both historically and well into the future. What is currently happening on site is part of a planned and staged tree renewal process. The designs have been guided by the existing tree conditions and the site’s proximity and relationship to the historic Retford Park house and gardens.

Arterra – Landscape Architects and Consulting Arborists have been working closely with Mr Fairfax and his team for the last six years. Every major tree in the development zone was carefully assessed to determine which could be saved and which needed to be removed. All of the tree removal has been approved and endorsed by the local Council and the NSW Office of Heritage.

Many existing trees were useful and understandable selections for a rural property where large trees, even when they decline, will have little or no significant impact on their surroundings. However, in a residential setting, they are not as suitable.

A great number of trees are required to be removed from Retford Park. A large majority of trees being removed are Monterey Pines also known as Radiata Pines (Pinus radiata). These have been listed by the Wingecarribee Shire Council as ‘undesirable’. This is due to their propensity to spread seed and become an ‘environmental weed’ problem in nearby natural and roadside landscapes.

Many of these Pines were planted more than a 100 years ago and have now reached the end of their safe and useful life. Many were also very closely spaced and therefore overcrowded and misshapen specimens. Of the other trees removed, many were damaged, declining or decayed. Some, otherwise healthy trees, were in the way of essential services or within the middle of the proposed roads or building lots and had to be removed.

Example of the condition of some of the native trees, many of which were in serious decline, or had suffered storm damage and were generally of poor health and vigour. [Source: Arterra 2011]
Example of the condition of some of the native trees, many of which were in serious decline, or had suffered storm damage and were generally of poor health and vigour. [Source: Arterra 2011]

Example of the Monterey Pine trees along Old South Road, many of which were in serious decline and poorly formed due to overcrowding. [Source: Arterra 2011]
Example of the Monterey Pine trees along Old South Road, many of which were in serious decline and poorly formed due to overcrowding. [Source: Arterra 2011]

In summary approximately 79% of the trees removed were either:-

Acer psuedoplatanus
is also commonly considered a weedy species. Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis x leylandii) can also be a problematic tree when grown in residential settings due to their very dense foliage and tall growth when mature and left untrimmed. It is also important to note that large and older trees are typically less tolerant of construction disturbances, and may have declined further, if retained. The design team has worked hard to identify the most appropriate trees to be retained and then protect these.

A professional tree clearing company has been engaged with sufficient skills and equipment to effectively and properly manage the clearing process. In summary:-

Many more new trees will be planted than trees removed. Creation of new gardens around each of the new homes will contribute greatly to the character and beauty of the wider Retford Park Estate.

Each lot is required to have at least one large tree planted in the front yard and one large tree in the rear yard. With more than 150 houses to be built, this will result in 300 new large trees planted within the private gardens.

The plan for removal and replacement of trees was developed as part of a carefully considered plan. Housing lots, even of a generous size can not often successfully and safely retain existing large and old trees. Every effort has been made to retain important younger and healthy trees, wherever practical. Typically these are situated near the rear or side boundary of the lots, away from the building areas and as far as possible from other construction disturbances.

The decision to remove trees was not taken lightly. Where existing trees were not able to be adequately accommodated a realistic approach was taken. Better environmental and aesthetic outcomes may be achieved through the removal of the older trees and the subsequent replacement with young healthy trees in appropriate, well prepared planting locations able to mature and thrive for many decades to come.

In the new landscape there will be:-


This means at least 1004 new trees will be planted at Retford Park. We believe that a balanced approach has been taken to the proposed tree removal and renewal and that the proposed landscaping and replacement tree planting will see Retford Park Estate mature into a wonderful and well treed landscape once again, and in the very near future.

12 May, 2016