High price for a pergola

DAVID ANTHONY awoke with a hangover Tuesday, but the North Freo resident’s headache really started the day before when he’d copped a $72,000 fine for erecting a pergola in his backyard.

He was taken to court by Fremantle council after its staff spotted the beginnings of the concrete structure going up on the heritage-listed property without planning approval.

Compounding his problems, he ignored an order to stop work, so was hit with additional charges.

Worse again, he missed his day in court because he’d thought it would be a simple deferral because the council was still preparing a heritage report, as had happened at an earlier hearing.

His own architect’s report said the Federation Queen Anne home had been altered so much it had lost its significance, but as it’s on the council’s heritage list he’s ended up at the pointy end of beefed-up protection laws.

• David Anthony and his very expensive pergola. Photo by Steve Grant

• David Anthony and his very expensive pergola. Photo by Steve Grant

Mr Anthony now wonders whether the magistrate was grumpy about his no-show and upped his fine, but he says he can’t afford an even costlier supreme court challenge—particularly after the council’s lawyers told him the fine could have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He’s keen to turn his personal misfortune into something positive and is hoping to convince the council to funnel some of his fine towards a new lick of paint at the North Fremantle Bowling Club and into some extra native trees around the city.

“Otherwise it just gets sucked up into their general accounts,” he told the Herald.

Mr Anthony has become a recent convert to both the club and the North Fremantle Community Association and says they need more support and new blood to thrive.

Mayor Brad Pettitt says the idea has merit and is organising a meeting between Mr Anthony and the head of the council’s planning department, Phil St John.

Despite trying to view the whole experience philosophically, Mr Anthony still feels the council’s compliance officers were too hard on him and are revelling in his misfortune. He’d suffered meningitis that nearly killed him during the dispute, and says council officers called him while he was recuperating to extract promises, which were later held against him. He says he can’t even recall the phone call, which was made at the time his condition was so chronic his rehabilitation regime included lessons on relearning to spell.

by STEVE GRANT

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