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Family given no right to appeal as garden faces bulldozer

Felicity Chapman with her two sons Harry and Owen, 17 and 13.
Felicity Chapman with her two sons Harry and Owen, 17 and 13. James McGrath

ON February 10 Murray and Felicity Chapman received the news that their award-winning garden was set to be demolished by the Gladstone Regional Council, and they had no right to appeal the decision.

The Chapmans have been entangled in an ongoing dispute with their neighbor for five years about the garden blocking the neighbour's view.

While the garden sits outside their property line, it had approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

"On previous occasions, the council has called us and given us the opportunity to have our say on the issue," Mrs Chapman said.

However, it has remained a prize-winning garden in those years, even taking out prizes in former Observer Garden Competitions.

This time, they say they have been given no warning no opportunity to come to a mutual agreement with the neighbor or even to have their right of reply on the complaints before the council made the threat to bulldoze the garden this Friday.

"When we called… we were told the decision was final and would not be changed," Mrs Chapman said.

However, the council has agreed to delay the bulldozing until it had finished an internal review into the matter, a review the Chapmans say they have had very limited input into.

We haven't had the same sort of attitude from the Gladstone Regional Council.

However, Mrs Chapman fears this review could be a rush job which could theoretically be finished before Friday.

The Chapmans are currently seeking a guarantee that there will be no bulldozing until they've been able to appeal to the Ombudsman and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, should it come to that.

It is believed after a visit of seven councilors to the garden last Wednesday, the Chapmans do have at least some of the councilors in their corner.

"The councilors came to see us, and we were so impressed with that. Straight away they were receptive and they came out to listen and try to understand our concerns," Mrs Chapman said.

"They gave us a fair hearing, and made us feel like we were part of the community. That has given us a great deal of hope.

"We haven't had the same sort of attitude from the Gladstone Regional Council."

In response to questions from The Observer, the council merely confirmed that the internal review was underway and did not guarantee a stay of bulldozing should the Chapmans seek further appeal of the decision.

What's growing in the garden?

  • Grass Trees
  • Banksias
  • Bottlebrushes
  • Wildflowers
  • Low-growing tea trees
The garden which is under threat.
The garden which is under threat. James McGrath

Topics:  garden, gladstone regional council, neighbourhood dispute, tannum sands




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