A developer has blasted the decision to keep a London Plane tree on his block in Manuka on the list of registered trees, saying the process had been "weaponised" by unrepresentative community groups opposed to redevelopment.
The tree is at the centre of a long-running dispute over the redevelopment of the Capitol Theatre and it will stay on the register after a decision by Conservator for Flora and Fauna Ian Walker.
The tree at 15 Franklin Street stands in the way of a development application lodged by the Liangis family, which owns the site, to replace the ageing cinema with a hotel.
Site co-owner John Liangis said the tree, which he called a "weed", had never met the requirements for the register and the future of the development on the block was now "up in the air".
"It's just a calamity. The tree has been falsely presented as some sort of tree that's been around since the dark ages. It's actually biologically a very young tree.
"There's evidence when the old cinema Capitol was demolished in 1980, the tree wasn't there," he said.
Mr Liangis said the tree's roots were impeding seven street trees and had clogged the sewer of the old post office site on Franklin Street, making it uninhabitable.
"Look, all I can tell you, there's nobody who loves trees more than me and my family does. But if someone plants a tree in your living room and then goes and registers it so you can't touch it, then that's a problem," he said.
Mr Walker said trees played an important role in the city and added significant character to the bush capital.
"This particular tree was put on the ACT Tree Register in May 2012 in recognition of its contribution to the landscape and aesthetic value, which remain today.
"I considered a range of factors in making my decision. This included public submissions, information from the proponent, advice from the independent tree advisory panel, advice from the ACT's chief planner and advice from the interim National Capital Design Review Panel," he said.
Mr Walker said developments needed to be innovative in incorporating and benefiting from existing trees.
"I hope that by maintaining the tree's protective status, it will continue its long life and people will further appreciate it as a natural focal point of the Manuka landscape," he said.
ACT Chief Planner Ben Ponton had earlier approved the development application pending Mr Walker's decision to keep the tree on the register.
The earlier investigation prompted by the tree's visible decline did not find any poison in the drill hole and could not identify anyone responsible for the vandalism.
Griffith Narrabundah Community Association president Leo Dobes said it was a "terrific" outcome.
"We're absolutely delighted that the conservator followed due process. It was our major concern that due process would be followed and we would like to express our gratitude to the people involved," he said.