An update on Sugarcube Apartments and Honeycomb Terraces

The latest information on the Erskineville development.

We approved the construction of Sugarcube Apartments and Honeycomb Terraces in the old Ashmore industrial precinct, Erskineville in September 2015.

This approval came with strict conditions the developer, Golden Rain, had to follow before starting construction.

These conditions required the developer to remediate the site due to contaminated groundwater and the presence of heavy metals, hydrocarbons and asbestos.

The remediation had to be carried out in accordance with a remediation action plan approved by an independent site auditor.

We contend that the developer went ahead with construction without meeting all these conditions.

The developer proposed a number of environmental management plans that would make the City of Sydney and future residents responsible for ongoing monitoring of the site.

How the City of Sydney responded

We met with Golden Rain on numerous occasions. This included a review of environmental data and discussions with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA)-accredited site auditor.

On 20 August 2019, we wrote to Golden Rain and suggested:

  • environmental insurance be investigated to cover any future rehabilitation costs
  • revised environmental management plans for the terraces, apartments and public roads
  • modification of the existing development consent to incorporate the 3 revised environmental management plans
  • Golden Rain provide a clear strategy for maintenance of the vapour barrier system installed under the terraces to capture and divert vapours from the groundwater.

Further site testing

The EPA issued a letter to Golden Rain on 3 September 2019 advising of the potential migration of contaminated groundwater to neighbouring properties.

The EPA told the developer it needed further testing referred to as “flux-based groundwater assessments” to address this issue.
Golden Rain’s consultants prepared a report on 22 October 2019, which the site auditor reviewed on 26 October 2019.

The site auditor required numerous matters to be addressed in the report and for it to be revised and resubmitted by Golden Rain.

On 7 November 2019, Golden Rain advised us that it was finalising the revised flux testing report for resubmission to the site auditor and EPA.

We’re currently awaiting the revised report from Golden Rain and further comments from the EPA and site auditor.

Golden Rain also advised that it has carried out further work to the remediation action plan, the 3 environmental management plans and a strategy for the operation of the terrace vapour barrier system.

Golden Rain advised it can’t give a precise indication as to when these documents could be finalised and submitted to the City.

What happens next

We await the resubmission of the flux testing report by Golden Rain to the EPA and the site auditor.

Once they’ve received the report, they’ll make recommendations or conclusions about the site. They could include the following:

  • The site is satisfactory in its present state for residential use.
  • The site requires further remediation works.
  • The site requires formal regulation and monitoring.

Golden Rain hasn’t yet provided to the City all the details we have requested to help identify a path forward, but has advised it will address these issues once it has finalised testing.

If revised environmental management plans are satisfactory to the EPA, site auditor and the City, the development consent will need to be modified to adopt the plans.

This modification application would be publicly notified for a 2-week period.
Any approved environmental management plans will need to be listed as a positive covenant of land titles.

The above steps are general and dependent upon the results of current testing and Golden Rain’s response to our concerns regarding land management.

What the purchasers of these apartments can do

We understand this has been an incredibly frustrating experience for the purchasers of these units and terraces.

Purchasers are encouraged to seek their own legal advice if they are concerned about the ongoing issue.

We aim for a solution that doesn’t negatively impact future residents and the public for many years to come.

We’ll continue to work with the developer until we’re satisfied they’ve taken all necessary steps to ensure the site is suitable for purchasers to move in.

For more information, contact the City of Sydney on 02 9265 9333.

Posted . Last updated .

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