Rozelle site owners battle WestConnex compulsory acquisitions

Rozelle site owners battle WestConnex compulsory acquisitions
Rozelle site owners battle WestConnex compulsory acquisitions

Long-time owners of two sites in Sydney's Rozelle are preparing to fight the NSW government's compulsory acquisition of their land for the WestConnex motorway project.

The two sites at 92-94 Lilyfield Road and 80-84 Lilyfield Road are next to ASX-listed developer Desane's landholding at 68-72 Lilyfield Road which is currently contesting their resumption in the Supreme Court.

The pending battles concern timber and hardware company Swadlings and the crane business Gillespies.

The combined Swadlings and Gillespies sites of nearly 6500 square metres can yield about 200 apartments.

The companies took their fight to Ross Greenwood at Channel 9 News.

Like Desane, both groups had sought a masterplan residential rezoning of the land with the NSW Department of Planning which was abandoned when the Roads and Maritime Services ordered the compulsory acquisition last September.

The RMS wanted the land for "a staging area for trucks and equipment", they said. They had a potential buyer who was prepared to pay $24 million for the sites and provide a timely relocation. The government offered them less than $3 million and the companies would have to fork out their own relocation costs.

"The Planning Department was attempting to adopt a well thought out masterplan approach but RMS came over the top and usurped this approach with its resumption of land," a Swadlings spokesman told Fairfax Media. 

"There was also a delay in the rezoning application process ahead of the compulsory acquisition of the property.

"If Swadlings cannot get a fair and reasonable outcome in the current discussions it will be forced to pursue every possible legal avenue."

Swadlings is a 100-year-old family business, said it was "watching closely the outcome of the Desane court case".

The RMS said both the sites were required for M4-M5 Link Rozelle Interchange.

"These properties were compulsorily acquired last September with the Valuer General determining the compensation in line with the Land Acquisitions (Just Terms Compensation) Act," a spokesman said.

"The M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement shows the land as required for a temporary construction and tunnelling site, and at the project's completion will be returned to the community as part of up to 10 hectares of open green space."

The NSW government had taken steps to compulsorily acquire the inner city residential land owned by ASX-listed developer Desane for the WestConnex motorway project, even though it had no firm plans to use it for the project, a NSW court has heard.

Desane has fought the compulsory acquisition of its landholding at 68-72 Lilyfield Road in Rozelle – an area earmarked for residential development and mixed use urban renewal – since August.

After mediations with the government fell through to consider a lease of the land or alternatives, Desane started proceedings at the Supreme Court of NSW last Monday.

During a cross-examination, former Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) project director Daniel Powrie, who was involved in the third stage of the project, told the court motorway plans showed Desane's site "was not impacted", that is, not required for tunnelling.

The government had earlier said the site would be used as a "car park" for staff.

Desane's site could yield a $100 million 200-apartment project.

Rozelle Westconnex

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