Edward Mandla
Rushcutters Bay’s ‘very own version of The Castle’: City wants to take garden and ‘build road to nowhere’

Published On: 05/05/2016

A SMALL parcel of land has become the centre of a controversial battle which one councillor has labelled as Rushcutters Bay’s “very own version of The Castle”.

The land, which serves as a communal yard of a unit block, has been declared a “public road” for the adjacent park by City of Sydney - and the council want to knock down the fence and open the land up to Rushcutters’ park.

But two occupants of the unit complex, Reg and Jill Powell have pleaded with the city to leave a small parcel of land — about 8x5m — or about a third of their backyard.Now, the David vs Goliath battle will be in the hands of the Land Titles Office, where the Powells have applied for adverse possession. In NSW, adverse possession laws mean a boundary which has been occupied and fenced for 12 years can become that person’s property.

The city says the existing fence was installed in 2009. But lawyer for the Powells, Brian Olliver, a partner at HWL Ebsworth, said he has sworn statutory declarations from owners dating back to the 1950s disputing such claims.

The retired couple moved there in 2002, and have upgraded the shared patio with new tiles and a bigger fence.

Mr Powell said he put a larger fence inside the council’s original fence after constantly finding syringes, used condoms and rubbish in his yard.They and their neighbours have already had issues with people jumping the fence and attempting to break into their homes — something he feared would get worse.

“Once they open that up and turn it into an enclave, they would have free access to walk straight in here,” he said.

“It is going to create a haven for homeless people and drugs to use it as a little area for camping, toilets, shooting up, it will become an unsafe area.”

Among the plans for the small parcel of land — which would be wedged between a set of steps and the Powell’s property — would be a new garden, new drainage, and a lower sandstone wall.

“As the property is designated as a road, the City needs to keep this land open to pedestrians and vehicles, and it cannot be the subject of an adverse possession claim,” a council spokeswoman said.

Liberal Cr Edward Mandla likened the Powell’s plight to that of the Kerrigan family in the iconic Australian film, The Castle.

He will push for the council to immediately stop its plans for a “road to nowhere” at its next meeting.

“The behaviour of the City of Sydney that talks the talk of fairness and equity, this behaviour towards Reg and Jill Powell shows that their behaviour does not match the words,” he said.

“Reg and Jill have occupied this area for decades and are entitled to continue to occupy it.

“The city of Sydney is now trying to declare it a road. A ludicrous proposition.”

Rushcutters Bay’s ‘very own version of The Castle’: City wants to take garden and ‘build road to nowhere’

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