'It's an absoloute violation': Excavation puts home on the brink

Sinking feeling: Marilyn Batman's side lane and fence collapsed into the development site next door. She is blaming Sutherland Shire Council for allowing excavation right up the the boundary. Picture: Jane Dyson
Sinking feeling: Marilyn Batman's side lane and fence collapsed into the development site next door. She is blaming Sutherland Shire Council for allowing excavation right up the the boundary. Picture: Jane Dyson

A CARINGBAH couple woke recently to find the side lane of their property had collapsed into the excavation of the development site next door.

Paul and Marilyn Batman are blaming Sutherland Shire Council for allowing the developer to excavate up to the boundary of their property.

Mr and Mrs Batman live at 1 Oleander Parade, Caringbah. The corner block next to the property, 238 to 242 Kingsway, Caringbah, is being redeveloped as 14 townhouses with basement parking.

Sutherland Shire Council approved the $4.9 million development in September, 2013.

It approved a modification to the plan including changes to the basement late last year.

Several weeks ago holes started appearing in the ground on the northern side of the Batmans' property. When they alerted the developers these were patched up.

But on Saturday, May 23, they awoke to find the utility lane up the side of their house including their fence and washing line had collapsed into the excavation next door.

"The whole laneway had fallen away including the Colorbond fence which left the side of our back patio exposed," Mrs Batman said.

"We didn't realise they would be able to excavate right up to our property line. All other properties have a setback.

Sinking feeling: Marilyn Batman's side lane and fence collapsed into the development site next door. She is blaming Sutherland Shire Council for allowing excavation right up the the boundary. Picture: Jane Dyson

Sinking feeling: Marilyn Batman's side lane and fence collapsed into the development site next door. She is blaming Sutherland Shire Council for allowing excavation right up the the boundary. Picture: Jane Dyson

"I blame the council because they approved the plans.

"It's an absolute violation."

Mr and Mrs Batman are getting an engineering report on the damage to their property and have now engaged a solicitor.

"We don't want money out of this. All I want is to have our home restored to the way it was."

Although development consent was granted by Sutherland Shire Council for the townhouse development, a private certifier rather than the council was the authorised certifying authority.

The council issued an emergency order requiring the developer to engage the services of their engineers to immediately report on the matter.

Within 24 hours of council attending the premises, a geotechnical engineer and a structural engineer inspected the site, and together they are working on a suitable method to stabilise, retain, support and protect the affected property. A fence has been built to separate the area from the adjoining residents.

Fines have been issued in relation to the management of the building site and the council is investigating whether any breaches of the development consent have occurred, and may take further action.

The developer, Jake Barnett, acknowledged the objections of Mr and Mrs Batman were addressed and handled in council in relation to the relaxed setbacks and increased density.

"We redesigned the project, reducing the number of townhouses from 15 to 14 in September 2013, and development consent was granted," he said.

"There was a block retaining wall built last weekend, and in conversations with the builder I believe everything has been handled in a safe, professional and timely manner."