A court has upheld a stop to the building of a Sydney harbourfront mansion after discovering that the work executed there thus far was unlawful, such as a sandstone wall constructed on public land along the harbour foreshore.

The Land and Environment Court has determined the half-constructed luxury house at Seaforth has not been built in accordance with its development consents, is encroaching on a neighbour’s land, and needs emergency work to render it structurally stable.

In addition, a sandstone block wall was established on foreshore land that came under the ownership of Transport for NSW, the court determined.

The court has ordered that landowner Peter Prasad must seek refreshed development consents from Northern Beaches Council before resuming work.

The illegal works were executed under the supervision of private certifier Stanly Spyrou of Dix Gardner Group, now serving a five-year ban for permitting people to reside in two other structures posing a “hazard” to inhabitants.

Prasad stated he was “very shocked and surprised” in February when the Herald reported that the council had delivered a stop-work order in the wake of complaints from nearby residents.

Workers have not been permitted to return since then to complete construction on the palatial dual-storey residence on the cliff face at Seaforth, offering sprawling panoramic views over Middle Harbour.

The block, which Prasad purchased for $1.2 million in 2015, ranked among the final vacant lots of pure waterfront land on Seaforth Bluff.

Northern Beaches Council argued the house was not being built in accordance with a development consent initially issued in 2007 or a construction certificate issued by Spyrou in the year 2018.

Prasad issued a challenge to the decision in the Land and Environment Court via his company, Zoro Developments.

Council informed the court that the property featured two unauthorised balconies and an unauthorised staircase, a lift shaft in the wrong place and openings in the master bedroom and ground floor that went unapproved.

Excavation and geotechnical piles were being placed beneath the home that were never mentioned in the plans, the council stated. Those activities convinced neighbours an unlawful third storey was being added.

Council discovered that the awning, staircase, terrace and pool all encroached on a neighbour’s land and a question was posed as to how “lawful access to the front door will be gained”.

Zoro Developments spoke in defense of the work and argued that the stop-work order was “excessively broad and disproportionate”.

It argued most of the unauthorised buildings stood only temporarily and the encroachments onto the neighbour’s property could be resolved or taken away.

Prasad presented evidence that the stop-work order had brought him financial difficulties and a concern he would not be able to attain additional financing to complete the building works.

Zoro Developments argued that the company should be permitted to complete building and make changes so that the completed house complied with the development approvals.

Yet in a judgment delivered in August, Land and Environment Court Commissioner Joanne Gray judged the works had contravened council’s development consents and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

She judged it was not allowable for work to continue and the only way for the manner to be resolved was for Zoro Developments to return to the council and request new approvals for altered plans.

All parties agreed that emergency works were required to immediately stabilise the site due to the fact that the geotechnical investigations necessitated as part of the approvals were never executed.

The original complainant was pleased with the court’s verdict.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald