Dozens of mature trees in Dickson, which residents feared could be axed to make way for a road, will be protected under new planning rules.
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman rubber stamped the changes last week, hoping they would spell an end to community anxiety about the future of a row of trees next to Dickson's Section 72 urban renewal precinct.
Concerns about the future of around 70 mature trees emerged during public consultation last year on plans to rezone land off Hawdon Place, where the government is planning to build its Common Ground social and affordable housing complex.
A government-commissioned engineer's report, which was published on the planning directorate's website as part of the consultation process, sketched a new road connecting Hawdon Place and Rosevear Place along the precinct's southern boundary.
The consultant's road ran through the corridor of trees.
All but two of the 50 public submissions to the consultation process expressed alarm about the trees' possible removal, with many demanding that they be protected.
At annual report hearings late last year, Urban Renewal Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she didn't support a new road through the precinct and the government wasn't planning to build one.
Chief Planner Ben Ponton described the engineer's map as "the very, very first set of drawings", while his deputy conceded the directorate might have inadvertently "drummed up some community anxiety" by releasing the report.
But the assurances did little to quell community angst, with some residents insisting they wouldn't be content until the government ruled out ever building the road and committed to protecting the trees.
The changes passed last week have ruled out a road along the precinct's southern boundary.
There are provisions for a future "driveway" and a walking and cycling path, although neither would be allowed to come at the expense of the mature trees along the "Dickson channel corridor".
In a statement to The Canberra Times, Ms Stephen-Smith, whose Kurrajong electorate includes Dickson, repeated that she had provided assurances to the community that the trees would not be axed.
The changes passed last week confirmed that position, she said.
Greens leader and local member Shane Rattenbury, who lodged a submission raising concerns about the future of the tree corridor, welcomed the changes.
Mr Rattenbury had feared community anxiety about the trees could derail the "much needed" 40-unit Common Ground development - even though the two issues were "largely unrelated".
"I think this will significantly allay community concerns and will ensure the protection of a stand of mature trees that not only will ... have aesthetic value but also be part of where we want to go with this city," he said.
But Dickson Residents' Group convener Jane Goffman, who spearheaded the campaign to protect the tree corridor, said the changes didn't nearly go far enough.
Ms Goffman said Ms Stephen-Smith had ignored her requests to have land at the precinct's southern boundary rezoned for parklands.
She said provisions to protect the health of the trees from a new path was a "ridiculous sop" and "completely meaningless", given the threats they would face from underground engineering work proposed as part of the redevelopment of the precinct.