Squabble over historic fence more about future plans

Amity owner Tony Dempsey on the rocks blocking his new entrance

NEIGHBOURS squabbling over fences is nothing new. It has gone on almost since time began.

Hours and hours of reality television and current affairs shows have been devoted to such battles.

Generally such tiffs would barely raise an eyebrow but not when it involves the fence at one of Brisbane’s oldest homes.

The unofficial combatants are the body corporate at Freshwater Apartments in Welsby Street and architect Anthony Dempsey who lives next door in the historic Amity House on the Brisbane riverfront at New Farm.

The Freshwater residents are angry over Mr Dempsey having had a gate installed in the fence they consider has major historic significance – without their permission or without consultation.

Mr Dempsey, who is credited with having been instrumental in the urban renewal of the peninsula with his designs and developments, fired back that he had put in the gate to allow him easier access to his property and to get the vehicles in his vintage car collection in and out and that he did not need to consult with the neighbours.

He said the fence was also rotting and was in a sad state and took action to fix it and the gate enabled much easier movement to and from his property for servicemen and for his collection of early model Mercedes-Benz cars.

The Freshwater residents say there is more to Gate-gate than just getting cars in and out.

Freshwater residential unit manager Denise Buckby said she believed the gate would open the floodgates to an unwanted and “illegal” multi-storey apartment complex Mr Dempsey planned to build in Amity House’s backyard.

The friction over the fence and easement between the two properties has gone on since the original developer of Freshwater struck a deal with Mr Dempsey to allow him access across Freshwater land to his 2127sq m property.

Ms Buckby said what Mr Dempsey had done was not in “the spirit of the agreement”.

The land on which Freshwater is built has historic value too, having been the site of the former HMAS Moreton naval base.

Ms Buckby said the Freshwater did not want to get “petty” about the fence as the focus should be on rejecting plans for what residents believe to be a four-storey complex yet, not long after the gate was installed in the fence, a large pile of boulders was tipped against the gate, rendering it useless.

“This area (the area shown as an easement on plans) was originally a garden and the body corporate have reinstated a rock garden for beautification,” Ms Buckby said.

Documents obtained by Village News indicate the 200sq m easement is to be kept free 24 hours a day of any moveable object from motor vehicles to rubbish bins to landscaping.

Amity House was built by accountant, author, company director and politician Thomas Welsby in 1892. He named it Amity.

Amity remained within the Welsby family until 1952 when it was bought by CSR for its refinery manager to live in and then sold to the Commonwealth Government for the use of the commandant of HMAS Moreton. The Refinery apartments are on the old CSR refinery site.

Amity House has been owned by Mr Dempsey since 1997 – before the Freshwater development was built.

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