Inverell’s town centre transformed with healthy street trees and sustainable infrastructure
The town of Inverell is nestled in a picturesque valley near the Macintyre River in northern New South Wales. Renowned for its proud pioneering history, beautiful restored buildings, boutique shopping and cultural endeavours, it’s also the centre of the Inverell Shire.
In 2014, Inverell Shire Council adopted an ambitious plan to rejuvenate the town centre. As well as making it more attractive, more functional and more profitable for local businesses, the plan sought to replace the old London Plane Trees that had been inappropriately planted along Otho Street.
In this case study, we explore how Citygreen collaborated with Inverell Shire Council, design consultants King & Campbell and other key stakeholders to revive this site, which is now home to large, healthy trees – and is much loved by the community.
As well as creating a first-class public space for people to live, work, shop and visit, a primary goal of the renewal project was to repair infrastructure on Otho Street. The existing London Plane Trees were poorly planted in concrete pipes, resulting in significant damage.
As Justin Pay, Civil Engineering Manager from Inverell Shire Council, explained, “Our main goals were to repair damaged infrastructure, replace trees to provide a functional and aesthetically pleasing town centre, and to improve road safety and access for pedestrians.”
“It was important to substitute the old Plane Trees with a suitable new species that would deliver high and immediate impact on the street.”
To enable Council to meet these goals, King & Campbell proposed a permeable pavement in conjunction with a continuous refuge in the centre of Otho Street. The innovative design allowed for construction of permeable and trafficable pavement over buried modules filled with soil, plus strategic placement of open planting beds for the new Pin Oak trees.
According to David Tooby, Urban Designer and Landscape Architect at King & Campbell, this advanced solution combining permeable pavers with a concrete slab is unique to the Inverell project.
“We had to devise a way of putting holes in the slab to allow for the delivery of air and water nutrients. We applied one hole per square meter as a means of permitting permeability through the pavement. The solution is unique”, he said.
“Citygreen provided valuable input into structural requirements and advice on the most suitable soil cell systems. The whole system was developed through a collaborative design process between Council, Citygreen, a horticulturalist and King & Campbell”, David added.
In terms of the soil cell system, Citygreen’s Stratavault was chosen as it adequately addressed the project goals. Plus, as Justin Pay pointed out, Stratavault was the “most cost-effective solution and simple to install.”
Indeed, Stratavault has been specifically designed to achieve major reductions in time and installation costs. Modules snap together, with no zip ties, screws or ground spikes required, allowing for fast and hassle-free assembly. Stratavault’s outstanding strength, engineered designed and 100% recycled materials also impressed project stakeholders, including David Tooby from King & Campbell.
“In my opinion, Citygreen are offering technologies that no other competitors are. I’ve worked with Citygreen on several projects and their soil cell technology goes beyond the capability of structural soil. Citygreen have been instrumental in providing advanced and sustainable solutions for delivering large, healthy, beautiful trees in hard urban environments”, David said.
Like any project of this scale, there were some challenges involved in the Inverell renewal. The technical obstacles – which included providing adequate water, drainage, growing matrixes and pavement support – were overcome with thoughtful design, together with Citygreen’s technology and service.
“Given that Council had not used Stratavault before, we were unsure about its application. Citygreen were great at explaining the process, outlining the benefits of the system, and providing examples of previous work for us to review and evaluate. Throughout the entire process – from inception, design and construction – Citygreen always made themselves available to answer questions and provide information to ensure that we achieved the required outcomes”, said Justin Pay from Council.
In addition to the technical challenges, the project posed some further obstacles – mostly around community support. Council advised that the project received significant negative push back during the initial planning stages.
David Tooby confirmed this view, saying “The masterplan was controversial. The community was worried about the impacts relating to parking and traffic manoeuvrability.”
However, despite the community’s initial concerns, construction ran smoothly through the project. And, since opening in May 2018, the results of the project speak for themselves.
By all accounts, the Otho Street project is an outstanding success. Since the renewal, the streets are buzzing, and local businesses are thriving. Plus, more people than ever are enjoying the lively Inverell atmosphere.
“Post construction, there has been an overwhelming amount of positive comment from all stakeholders. So far, the results of the project can only be described as fantastic”, Justin Pay said.
David Tooby echoed this view, saying, “Inverell is a very successful project. The detailing is exceptional, the trees have had a high initial impact, and the community is quite enamoured with the result. I can’t commend Council and Citygreen highly enough. It really is a job well done.”