Caringbah resident condemned by council for Facebook video on duplex DA decision

Neighbourhood impact:  Adam Newman, with daughter Matilda, says the council "let down nine hard-working families" who objected to the application for retrospective modifications to the development. Picture: Chris Lane
Neighbourhood impact: Adam Newman, with daughter Matilda, says the council "let down nine hard-working families" who objected to the application for retrospective modifications to the development. Picture: Chris Lane

A Caringbah resident who posted a video on social media about how a developer had been able to breach consent conditions was told by the council he could have “inspired a bunch of rookie developers to consider behaving inappropriately”.

Adam Newman said it was “a case of the council shooting the messenger”.

Mr Newman contacted Sutherland Shire Council about the slab of the duplex being built next to his house in Yathong Road appearing higher than that approved.

A stop-work order was imposed and the slab was found to be 200mm over the height limit .

The developer was fined [the amount varies in council statements between $12,000 and $18,000], but was allowed to submit a retrospective application to regularise the work, which was approved with conditions.

Councillor Jack Boyd, who took up the matter on Mr Newman’s behalf, was told in an email from director of planning Peter Barber that ordering demolition of the work would inevitably lead to a legal  challenge, which would be very expensive and the outcome uncertain as a court would be reluctant to make such an order.

Mr Newman responded with a Facebook video, detailing the case.

Mr Barber emailed Mr Newman, saying it was disappointing he had not stated in the video that the council had required amendments so the overall building height remained as originally approved, and a number of extra privacy requirements were imposed.

“Your public criticism of me I can deal with,” Mr Barber wrote.

“What I am most concerned about is that by you selectively broadcasting part of the information I provided to Cr  Boyd, you have educated the development community about how the system favours them when they do the wrong thing and left them with the false impression that there are no consequences.

“I fear that you have inspired a bunch of rookie developers to consider behaving inappropriately, which will adversely impact other shire residents.”

Mr Newman told the Leader that rather than “shooting the messenger”, the council should be standing up for the rights of residents.

“I can’t believe how colossal the building is,” he said. “Even without a roof, it towers above anything else on the street and looks directly into our backyard and those of our neighbours,” he said.