WHILE Fremantle council’s planning committee was busy approving a major redevelopment of the Woolstores Shopping Centre this week, at the other end of the scale it was also giving the tick to a tiny backyard cubby.
And despite being the minnow of the two projects, the cubby has long-term implications for the port city and its residents.
Eleven-year-old Harry Hillyar’s cubby came to the attention of the council’s planners when a neighbour lodged a complaint that it was bolted directly to their wall and too much noise was reverberating around their living areas.
Inspectors discovered Harry’s hidey-hole was constructed without approval and being on stilts was higher than allowed by the rules governing outbuildings.
That meant his mum Kate had to submit a retrospective planning application and hope for sympathetic councillors.
But it was a submission from another, supportive, neighbour that caught councillors’ attention and convinced them to give her the nod, says Hilton warder Dave Hume.
The neighbour had argued that in an increasingly dense city, families who showed ingenuity to ensure their kids had somewhere to play away from the X-Box needed council support.
“I think you are coming down to the point where a lot of rules were relevant to when people had a quarter acre block and you would say ‘put it somewhere else,” Cr Hume said.
“North Fremantle doesn’t have a lot of open space for kids, other than Gilbert Fraser reserve, so I think we have to be able to give families some flexibility.”
Ms Hillyar says the cubby was always intended to be a temporary structure, and with just a tiny courtyard for outdoor space at her Northbank townhouse, there was little else they could do but put it on stilts.
She says they put screens up to protect neighbours’ privacy, and have since unscrewed it from the neighbour’s wall.
The committee’s approval still needs the final endorsement of full council, but meanwhile Harry’s free to head outside to read books, play some music or hang out with his friends.
by STEVE GRANT