An elderly Riverwood couple will be forced to pay rent to live in their family home of 28 years after it was compulsorily acquired to build a car park partly funded under the federal government's controversial National Commuter Car Park Fund.
Sam and Monika Charan, both in their 70s, live at 16 Webb Street. They received a 7.30am door knock on February 16 and were told their homes would be compulsorily acquired by the NSW Government and bulldozed to make way for a four-storey commuter car park.
The deeds of title for 12, 14 and 16 Webb Street, Riverwood, were taken by Transport for NSW on October 29.
Once a property is compulsorily acquired, the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act entitles Transport for NSW to charge rent for the time between compulsory acquisition and vacant possession.
The rent will be accrued and subtracted from the total sum of compensation awarded on a final settlement.
They will be required to vacate their home by May 24, 2022.
The owners of the three properties were given 90 days to agree to a price with Transport for NSW.
Vineh Charan, son of Sam and Monika Charan, said this is three months less than the statutory requirements. The reduction in negotiation time was justified by fast-tracking shovel-ready infrastructure projects to stimulate the COVID economic recovery.
'We can't believe that we find ourselves in this situation where our family home of 28 years has been taken from us," Vineh said.
"We've not been paid a cent for our house and have now been told we will have to pay rent to stay in the house.
"We have not accepted the offer of $1.1 million from Transport for NSW as we don't believe this is fair market value for the property. Because, just last weekend, I went to an auction at a property of inferior quality just 500-metres from our house and it sold at auction for $1.447 million."
The matter is now in the hands of the NSW Valuer-General.
The Federal Government is contributing $10.5 million towards the car park cost under its $660 million National Commuter Car Park Fund.
Federal Liberal MP David Coleman was contacted for comment.
"I fully support the Riverwood car park project, which will provide critical infrastructure for local residents. The arrangements for building the car park are being managed by Transport for NSW, and should be fair for affected residents," he said.
Vineh Charan said he was also not happy with the conduct of the Georges River Council.
"The compulsory acquisition was only possible following the secret sale of the car park by Georges River Council that adjoins the rear of the three properties," Vineh said.
"My family were so disappointed with the actions of Georges River Council in selling this adjoining car park, and giving the community no notice, and no opportunity to object to its sale."
Georges River Council has previously requested the government to consider alternative sites.
"The sale of Council's property was not done as a "secret sale", " a council spokesperson said.
"In 2018 Council considered a public report containing the draft Car Parking Strategy for the City, including the Webb Street car park adjoining Riverwood Plaza.
|In 2019 Council again considered a public report and placed the draft Strategy on exhibition for 64 days. Council received no objections from the public in regard to the potential disposal of the car park - identified as surplus due to low occupancy rates.
"As a result, Council resolved publicly to dispose of the car park at its meeting on 27 July 2020 after it was identified as surplus in Council's Property Strategy 2019.
"More than two years after Council publicly identified the car park as surplus, the site was advertised for sale on the open market in September 2020.
"The decision was made independently of any State or Federal government plans for commuter car parking in Riverwood. After the site was sold, Council was advised by Transport for NSW that it intended to construct a commuter car park on the site," the council spokesperson said.
Vineh said that if the car park had not been sold, his family and neighbours would not have lost their homes.
"We will now be required to pay rent to Transport for NSW until we vacate the properties," he said.
"It's a sad state of affairs and extremely un-Australian."
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