Honeycomb and Sugarcube residents to wait on contaminant tests

Honeycomb and Sugarcube residents to wait on contaminant tests
Honeycomb and Sugarcube residents to wait on contaminant tests

The would-be residents of Sugarcane and Honeycomb, the uninhabitable Erskineville residential complexes built on possibly toxic land, likely face more months of being unable to access their dwellings.

The City of Sydney Council has concerns about the Chinese-backed developer, Golden Rain Development not meeting the required remediation conditions.

Buyers were told on their purchase to expect an April 2018 move-in date.

In February 2015 timeline expectations were as follows:

  • Demolition of existing industrial buildings on the site
  • Removal of trees
  • Construction of a multi-level apartment building with a two-level basement on the southern portion of the site (Sugarcube apartments)
  • Construction of 18, three-bedroom terrace development on the north portion of the site (Honeycombe Terraces)
  • Construction of new roads, pedestrian links and public domain works to be dedicated to Council

There are ongoing fears of contaminated groundwater on the former Monier roofing tiles site which had residue heavy metals, hydrocarbons and asbestos from its days as an industrial suburb.

Sydney Council confirmed that no final site contamination audit statement had been lodged.

"A private certifier issued the construction certificate to allow construction to proceed on the site despite not having received the final site audit statement," a SCC spokesperson said.

"City staff have been in ongoing discussions with the developer, who has not complied with the development consent conditions concerning remediation of the site."

It advised the developer has since provided further test results of the contaminants on the site and an assessment of the risk.

"Council is currently reviewing this material and is likely to seek some further information from the developer."

A spokesperson for Golden Rain Development said they "understood the delays have caused frustration."

It claimed the delays are due to requests by the City of Sydney relating to testing of groundwater near access roads and pedestrian walkways on the site.

"As Council will take ownership of these roads and walkways, it has asked for the additional testing before the final occupation certificate can be issued for the development."

"Golden Rain Development will continue to work with the City of Sydney to ensure Council is satisfied the site meets all health and safety requirements, and apartment owners can begin enjoying their new homes as soon as possible," the spokesperson said.

The City of Sydney approval came with a required $736,000 by the developer for a walkway.

The projects are within the Ashmore Precinct, one of the City of Sydney's biggest urban growth precincts.

The 17 hectare site, bounded by Ashmore Street, Mitchell Road, Coulson Street and the Bankstown railway line, is expected to have 6,000 residents by 2025.

A Sydney contamination auditor expects there will be a "long delay" for residents in getting into the upmarket projects where studio prices fetched $550,000 plus.

Industry experts have questioned how the project construction began without the necessary documentation in place.

"How did this build ever start in the first place?" a conveyancer said.

In NSW the management of contaminated land is “shared” by the Environment Protection Authority, the state Department of Planning and Environment and local councils.

Both projects were a finalist in "excellence in marketing" at the 2016 UDIA Awards.

The selling estate agents Colliers International declined to advise on the status of the sales contracts secured between 2015 and 2016, along with when the strata plan would be registered.

"All enquiries should be referred to Golden Rain Development," Colliers residential managing director Peter Chittenden said.

It is understood that some buyers have sought to terminate the sales contract and receive a refund of their deposit.

Nearby resales in other unaffected complex have shown no price growth over the past three years.

Golden Rain's ultimate owner is based in the British Virgin Islands.

One local director is 54 year old Bernard Chi, who has a 34th floor Bathurst Street, Sydney apartment. Another associated director is 55 year old Anne Bi, from West Pennant Hills.

The other directors give Hong Kong addresses.

A $1 million Sugarcube buyer Nick Rehac said he was "not allowed to stay here."

"We have no power," he told reporters as he stood in front of a fence preventing him to access the building.

"They took the money."

This article was first published in the Saturday Daily Telegraph.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Erskineville Building Defects

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