By Sally McGlew
A RETAINING wall has been giving Guildford resident Michelle Lewis a headache for 18 months.
Living next door to the northern boundary of the St Jude’s complex in Swan Street East has meant the Lewis family are waiting for construction site workers to enter their backyard and complete works on the wall on private land.
“I feel that we have been in the dark for 18 months and had to fight for any bits of information from the developer,” Mrs Lewis said.
The couple believe the residential amenity and heritage in a unique and historical suburb would be irretrievably lost if the development goes ahead as planned.
She said the community has concerns about the existing facility because current Council approval for most of the site is for residential land use.
Mrs Lewis and her husband have also sought an asbestos management plan which they said had not yet been released despite works on the site commencing.
St Jude’s current facility in Guildford provides accommodation for both aged residents and residents with mental health issues.
So far, only a permit for the construction of the buildings has been issued – at the moment the builder can’t start earthworks until the outstanding issues regarding the retaining wall have been addressed.
Ms Lewis said plans sent to neighbours show invasive works to their properties to construct the eastern retaining wall with fencing through a current bedroom, piling next to a bedroom, disconnection from the mains sewer, and the relocation of a child’s cubby house.
However these works have been omitted from the current plan sent to Council by the builder.
If the works to the northern retaining wall are approved, the builder can start earthworks up to a point, which may then leave no viable alternatives to the plans proposed on neighbour’s homes.
Ms Lewis said her family was being forced into an unfair situation.
St Jude’s managing director Binu Joseph said the architects were not seeking building approvals in stages.
“Building permits have been issued by the City of Swan for all new proposed buildings as per the approved plans,” he said.
“TZ Architects is seeking a separate building permit for the boundary walls to the property only.
“We believe that the adjoining owners can be confident that all their concerns will be addressed.”
Mr Joseph also said the design team have advised neighbours on the procedures for the asbestos removal.
At the February 17 City of Swan monthly meeting, Council gave approval for the retaining wall works to proceed.
Council resolved to approve the work to the satisfaction of chief executive officer Jeremy Edwards
Mr Edwards visited the site with staff on February 12 and spoke to the neighbours surrounding the development to listen to their concerns.
City of Swan planning manager Phil Russell said St Jude’s must make alternative arrangements and modifications to the planning approval and bring that to the table.
He said there were already plans underfoot for this to occur.
“In my opinion it won’t affect the capacity of the neighbours to assent to intrusions on their land.”
Mr Joseph said the design team was in email communication with each owner and provided them with the relevant drawings and design information in relation to their individual property.
“The design team is also issuing regular updates and notice to the owners on the progression of the works and responding to queries as a result,” he said.