Out of pocket $600,000
A Wahroonga woman who has lost around $600,000 after her home plummeted in value through NorthConnex building works at her back door, is seeking government compensation for the substantial loss.
She also wants to overhaul the laws governing people’s rights to compensation when their homes are compulsorily purchased or drop in value through infrastructure work around their property.
In 2011 Linda Smith and her husband moved into Bareena Avenue Wahroonga, then a quiet, leafy cul-de-sac.
“When we moved in there was a house between us and the M1, and there was bushland and wildlife, so it was a natural noise barrier,” said Linda Smith. “It was a calm, tranquil place to live.”
Between 2014 and 2016 Roads and Maritime Services compulsorily purchased four homes around her, for a variety of prices up to $3million, to enable work on the nine kilometre NorthConnex tunnel to get underway. Her house was not needed.
“Last year my house was independently valued at $1.8m by an estate agent. Then the bush was cleared away, the houses around me were bought for the motorway build and suddenly our quiet haven was smashed.
“One of the compulsorily-purchased houses became a NorthConnex site office, while the property next door was knocked down to redirect the local creek away from the tunnel route, losing the barrier between the new motorway construction site and my house,” said Linda.
Suffering “intrusive” building work night and day just metres from the three bedroom home which vibrates with the drilling, Linda’s husband was unable to cope and the marriage split up. Linda has suffered a string of severe health issues including depression and anxiety.
“There are bright lights shining right into the bedroom and chainsaws starting at 1.30am,” she said. During one incident she recorded a 90 decibel excavation noise blast, right outside the main bedroom window, with loud tree clearing occurring at night too.
“North Connex has been approached many times on this issue by us and we have not yet had any significant changes in support of our concerns - just $25 worth of movie tickets. It’s insulting.
“The continuous emotional and physical stress has been enormous and I’m now on medication to help.”
Being in the centre of all this building work has effectively devalued the house by over $600,000, after more than 60 prospective buyers turned away due to the NorthConnex building work, and the home recently sold for $1.2m.
Linda now plans to fight the NSW Government to claw back some of the
difference in value, and is currently gathering evidence to issue the legal challenge to the government.
“With this legal challenge I’m launching, I want to overturn the existing laws that seem to ride roughshod over people’s rights for adequate compensation.
“Apparently we are a shadow in the law as there are no legal precedents or statutes that protect individuals from psychological, physical and financial hardship caused in cases like this. This is a real case of David and Goliath.
“The laws of this land need to change so that others aren't affected when forced into similar situations.”
Linda Smith with partner Pete Cooper, NorthConnex digger in the background