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Sydney Metro leaves booted small business owners short-changed

Nick Salanitro outside his shop at Tower Square. Photo: Daniel MunozNick Salanitro, 76, bought a small jeweller’s shop in North Sydney’s bustling Tower Square 19 years ago as his nest egg, and another in the same building six years later for his children.
Nanjing Night Net

Both will soon be demolished to make way for the Sydney Metro. The bustling shopping mall will be levelled for a machine depot during the construction phase of the Baird government’s new train line. After that, the site will be re-sold to a property developer.

Told he must sell, Mr Salanitro is unhappy the price being offered to him by Transport for NSW won’t be enough for him to buy nearby, and doesn’t acknowledge the leap in the land’s value after the Metro is complete.

“It’s not right,” he says. “I’m not against them making a railway. It’s progress. But the property is being acquired to make money to sell to a developer. At least compensate people with the right price. It is all being taken away from us.”

The Baird government is expected to release this week its response to a review of the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act conducted by David Russell more than two years ago. The report, into how to make the system fairer, has never been released.

There is rising discontent over the government’s compulsory acquisition process for the WestConnex, Sydney Metro and the light rail.

Home owners have complained the prices offered are not sufficient for them to relocate nearby. City building owners forced to sell to make way for the Sydney Metro are riled the Baird government intends to resell the airspace above stations to property developers.

This week it was revealed Macquarie Group had lodged an unsolicited proposal to redevelop the airspace above the Martin Place Metro station, and it had reached the second stage of evaluation by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).

The Sun-Herald has previously reported a building owned by Macquarie is the only one to be spared compulsory acquisition and demolition in the Elizabeth Street block above the Martin Place Metro.

Residents forced to sell apartments next door in a heritage-listed Art Deco building say the Macquarie proposal wasn’t disclosed to them while they were negotiating with Transport for NSW over market valuations.

“I’m disappointed to learn that Macquarie Bank has proposed to redevelop the air space above my home of 18 years, now owned by TFNSW,” said former resident at 7 Elizabeth St, Stephen Taylor.

Documents show that Transport for NSW contracted law firm Ashurst to provide advice on an unsolicited proposal on August 23. Residents in 7 Elizabeth Street were given until the end of August to agree to a price with Transport for NSW or go to court, and negotiations continued in the final weeks of August.

A DPC spokesman said the Macquarie proposal was received after the November 2015 announcement by Transport for NSW of which buildings would be acquired for the Martin Place station.

UTS associate professor Vince Mangioni, a former statutory valuer for the NSW government, says reinstatement rights for owners forced to sell property must be included in any changes to compensation law.

In his submission to the Russell report, Dr Mangioni said a new law must clearly define how to split the uplift in value of a property that is redeveloped after a government infrastructure project, so that some of the financial benefit flows to the owners to allow them to relocate in the same area.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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