Ryde ratepayer urges council to enforce development approvals

Stavi Antoniou next to the collapsed wall outside her Victoria Road home. TWT On-the-Spot PHOTO
RYDE RESIDENT Stavi Antoniou believes Ryde Council’s works approvals aren’t worth the paper they’re written on because of a failure to enforce them.

Mrs Antoniou is furious with council for what she says is a failure to enforce works approval and consent notices after recent works at the Putney Hill development – next to her Victoria Road home – allegedly caused a front wall to collapse onto the footpath and contributing to cracks to walls inside her home.

To make matters worse, when Mrs Antoniou addressed a council meeting two years ago and later contacted phoned former Mayor Bill Pickering, he accused her of being a vexatious complainant.

“The way he spoke to me added insult to injury and I’ve had countless sleepless nights and shed many, many tears because of the way this council has allowed property developers to get away with the damage to my special, 1950s ocean-liner style home,” she told The Weekly Times.

“What has become clear to me is that no one at Ryde Council is willing to administer the conditions of consent they have given developers and that developers who contribute millions to this council get preferential treatment to individual residents.”

Mrs Antoniou stressed that bringing her concerns to the attention of The Weekly Times was not part of a strategy to seek compensation.

“I’m going public with this on behalf of other residents whose lives and homes are being destroyed by neighbouring developments and are too scared to raise their voices to complain,” she said.

“On their behalf I’m demanding that Ryde Council either enforces the conditions of the consent it gives or doesn’t give consent at all.

“In my experience conditions of consent are not worth the paper they are written on without a willingness to enforce them.”

She said the neighbouring developer had not only carried on the works next to and in front of her house, it had used her front yard as a storage area and had even erected a ‘demolition zone’ sign in her garden.

“I’ve been so angry, I’ve written to the Ombudsman about this,” she said.

Her case was dealt with as an emergency motion at a 2016 council meeting at the urging of former Clr Jeff Salvestro-Martin who at the time commented that council “is only too happy to take developer’s cash”.

Mrs Antoniou says she couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve paid more than fifty thousand dollars in rates, enough money to hire a full-time compliance inspector for six months,” she said.

Mrs Antoniou intends to leave the damage from the fallen wall on the footpath, as a matter of principal.

It is not the first time developers’ non-compliance has been raised at a council meeting and councillors where shocked when a recent government-backed blitz in the City Of Ryde revealed the extent of developers illegally dumping works run-offs and rubbish into the Parramatta River.

As one Parramatta River resident put it.

“Builders and developers think they can get away with it and you know what, a lot of times they can,” she said.