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 in 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 began construction without meeting all these conditions.

The developer also 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 it was finalising the revised flux testing report for resubmission to the site auditor and EPA.

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

EPA response – December 2019

The EPA has advised that neighbouring properties and future occupiers of the site aren't at risk, provided the contamination is managed on an ongoing basis by long-term environmental management plans.

The EPA also provided a report setting out the requirements that need to be considered as part of the environmental management plans to be adopted. On this basis, the EPA advised that it considers it unnecessary to regulate the site under the Contaminated Lands Management Act 1997 (“CLM Act”).

Golden Rain response – 20 December 2019

Golden Rain updated the City on 20 December 2019 and indicated a path forward following the response from the EPA. Golden Rain advised us it intends to:

  • lodge a modification application in January 2020 to amend the terms of the development consent and voluntary planning agreement to permit the staged occupation of the site, starting with Sugarcube Apartments and followed by Honeycomb Terraces at a later time
  • provide an addendum to the remediation action plan for the site
  • provide an updated risk assessment for the Honeycomb Terraces
  • provide a strategy for a community title of the Honeycomb Terraces.

Golden Rain also provided us with an updated environmental management plan for the Sugarcube Apartments building.

We’re currently awaiting further documentation. It's expected that the modification application will need to be publicly notified for a 2-week period.

Any approved environmental management plans will need to be listed as a positive covenant on land titles.

City of Sydney response – 2 March 2020

We wrote to Golden Rain offering in principle support of their proposed modification application for the staged occupation of the site (Sugarcube apartments stage 1 and Honeycomb Terraces stage 2), subject to proper assessment, notification and provided they meet a series of conditions to protect future residents and visitors to the site.

Modification application lodged – 21 April 2020

Golden Rain lodged an application to modify the development addressed at 1 Metters Street, Erskineville and referenced D/2015/154/E.

The modification seeks to stage occupation of the development and to amend the timing of land dedication.

The amendment also includes consideration of environmental recommendations for the site and the use of temporary easements to provide access to the apartments (Stage 1 of the development).

Given current circumstances due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the application will be placed on public exhibition for an extended period of 28 days from Tuesday 21 April to Tuesday 19 May 2020.

Access the application and its associated documents.

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're concerned about the ongoing contamination issue.

We’re aiming 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 it has taken all necessary steps to ensure the site is suitable for purchasers to move in.

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

Posted . Last updated .

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