The owner of a stately Clayfield home has been ordered to lop the trees on the eastern boundary of her property at 123 Adelaide Street East to preserve the views of her neighbours to the rear.
The neighbours were grateful Michelle Catelan had trimmed the foliage twelve months earlier to expose the expansive views – to Brisbane Airport and Moreton Island – which Robin Wiseman and Peter Matthews had enjoyed from the time they moved in after picking up the home at auction.
Ms Catelan hadn’t been so obliging as regards the trees on her western boundary that were said to be blocking the neighbours’ views across Nundah to the Glasshouse Mountains.
And when Wiseman raised the issue again, Catelan responded that the cost of her most recent lopping exercise for just one side of the property was $7k and that annual tree maintenance topped $6k.
No resolution forthcoming, Wiseman and Matthews took the matter to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
It heard testimony from former owners and neighbour Penny Campbell of the spectacular outlook that predated the neighbours’ occupation.
The proponents produced the brochure advertising the 2008 auction attesting to “stunning North East verandah views across to Moreton Bay” and called evidence from several parties that the particular trees had been trimmed prior to the auction so “the views across to Moreton Bay were visible”.
Senior member Peter Allen accepted the existence of the views to the East as at 2008 but – in the absence of photographs – refused to accept Wiseman or Matthews at their word that the Glasshouse Mountains panorama was also then visible, even though that account was supported by Ms Campbell.
The resulting order requires Ms Catelan to lop the five Harpulia trees at the rear of her eastern boundary from their current 9m height, down to at least 6.5 m and to prune them below that level, annually.
Penny Campbell had her own application for the restoration of a verandah and master bedroom “long-range” outlook of “the lights of the oil refinery and the sand blow on Moreton Island”.
Her concern was the Harpulia foliage to her east – on Catelan’s western boundary – that was left undisturbed by the Wiseman/Matthews tree-lop order.
Judge Allen concluded the views obstructed by that greenery were only from the master bedroom extension Ms Campbell and husband Edward Haysom had constructed in 2010 by which time the Harpulias were well advanced.
Because that outlook was non-existent at the time of their arrival in Adelaide Street East in 1998 before the trees had been planted, the obstructing foliage was not amenable to a lopping order.
Campbell’s outlook from her verandah – judge Allen reasoned – was obscured by her own trees, high fences and by the addition of an upper level to Ms Catelan’s grand home, not by the Harpulias.
In any event because Ms Campbell’s property did not “adjoin” that of Catelan – rather it was separated by an easement over which several owners (Wiseman and Campbell included) had access rights – the tribunal had no jurisdiction, in Judge Alllen’s view, to make any tree removal order in her favour.