Dispute sits on the fence

Peter Urie was furious to find workers had removed his schoolyard fencing and installed colourbond. (Damjan Janevski) 317451_04

Elsie Lange

When Peter Urie came home at lunchtime to find workers from the adjoining GemLife Woodend dismantling his back fence to install Colorbond, he was “annoyed“ – and a bit confused – to say the least.

Only a few years before, he said, Macedon Ranges council had granted a permit for the retirement village to install schoolyard fencing along the back of a number of Mt Macedon Road properties.

“Despite agreeing to the existing fence four years ago [GemLife] dismantled and replaced it with their preferred fence without any notice or consultation with anyone,” Mr Urie said.

Council planning and environment director Rebecca Stockfeld said the matter was being investigated.

“[We are] liaising with all parties to seek a resolution,” she said.

Mr Urie had no idea the Colorbond was being installed along about 120 metres of GemLife’s boundary, including his property and four or five neighbours to his east.

And while he tried to engage with GemLife over the unwelcome surprise, he said they didn’t come to an agreement.

So, he went out the back and took the Colorbond down himself and had GemLife replace it with schoolyard fencing.

While Mr Urie’s fence is back to its former glory, other neighbours haven’t been so lucky.

Eamon Dixon lives a couple of doors down – his wife was home alone with the dog when she called him to say there were people in the backyard taking down their fence.

“[About] two months beforehand, a site supervisor or manager came and spoke to my wife and my wife said no, we don’t want to go with Colorbond,” he said.

He said his dog had tried to chase the workers off the property, and even though his wife protested, “they just continued to put the fence up, took the old one down and put the Colorbond up”.

“When I purchased the property it had the schoolyard fencing. They didn’t give any reason for [removing] it. The whole reason we liked the schoolyard fencing because… we didn’t want the suburban look,” Mr Dixon said.

He said he contacted GemLife just after Christmas, but still hasn’t heard when his old fencing would be reinstalled.

“What’s upset my wife and I is they just muscled in and bullied their way in and said too bad, we’re bigger than you and we’ll do what we want,” he said.

GemLife Woodend was contacted for comment.