Australia More houses in Sydney's west crack on sinking ground, owners launch class action

13:06  18 may  2021
13:06  18 may  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a close up of a light: A handful of homes in Spring Farm are cracking to the horror of residents. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC Business A handful of homes in Spring Farm are cracking to the horror of residents. (Supplied)

New reports of sinking homes in Sydney's west have prompted calls for an overhaul of the state's building regulations.

Homeowners Peter and Sharon Luhr are among residents on a street in Spring Farm near Camden who say they've experienced subsidence and cracking at "nearly every door and window" of their investment property.

"We're all in the same boat, it's gut-wrenching," Mrs Luhr said.

"I'm not just talking about small cracks. They were really noticeable throughout the whole building."

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Within 18 months of buying the property to fund their retirement, the Luhrs said extensive cracking inside and outside began to emerge, and that it had worsened in recent years.

"We're worried about the movement in the house. We've had glass doors in the house just smash [and] tiles moving in the bathroom," Mrs Luhr said.

The couple said the damage has made it difficult to secure tenants, despite the property being deemed safe and liveable by two geotechnical engineers.

"We had to drop the price dramatically to keep someone in the place [because] of how it looks," Mrs Luhr said.

The developer, Cornish Group Spring Farm Pty Ltd, said it was aware of some localised subsidence issues but that it was confined to land it purchased from Camden Council.

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In a claim brought against the council, the developer said it hoped to establish that the council filled and compacted the relevant land where the issues had arisen.

In a statement, the developer said it had worked with and would continue to work with individual landowners who may be affected.

After attempts to rectify the issue with their builder failed, the Luhrs joined a class action, which had since been lodged in the NSW Supreme Court.

The legal firm leading the class action, Mayweathers, alleged the loss and damage sustained by residents was a result of the Camden Council and Cornish Group Spring Farm Pty Ltd.

The developer and Camden Council confirmed they were aware of the Spring Farm class action but had not been formally notified or served any documentation.

The legal action comes about a year after property giant Lendlease offered to buy back or repair more than 800 homes at Jordan Springs near Penrith that were built atop an old landfill site.

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About 90 of those homes had major structural problems.

The ongoing problems at Spring Farm have prompted Local Government NSW president Linda Scott to reamplify calls for the state government to better regulate the city's growth.

"As Sydney grows, councils alongside our communities are devastated to see an increasing number of buildings with significant structural flaws," Ms Scott said.

She said the state government has for years ignored calls for tougher regulations and a building commissioner that covers all concerns in the construction sector.

"The enforcement and licensing of our building professionals is not strong enough," Ms Scott said.

"It's so important that the state government steps up and acts."

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes said more rigorous assessment requirements and controls had been added to more recent rezoning decisions, such as the most recent development stage at Jordan Springs.

In a statement, he said councils must thoroughly scrutinise controls and assessment requirements when applications for subdivision and development were assessed.

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usr: 1
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