Homeowners reeling over Warnbro Wall

Exclusive Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
The subdivision estate wall facing Warnbro Sound Avenue and Holcombe Road in Warnbro.
Camera IconThe subdivision estate wall facing Warnbro Sound Avenue and Holcombe Road in Warnbro.

Rockingham council has backflipped on a decision to oversee the demolition and replacement of a dangerous wall, instead expecting homeowners to come together to fund and manage the mammoth project.

The council had agreed to pay to co-ordinate the demolition and rebuilding of the wall, which separates the homes from busy Warnbro Sound Avenue, but now says it has no responsibility to do so and fears the precedent it could set.

But residents worry an unco-ordinated, haphazard approach to demolition could be a disaster, with “10 different land owners, working on 10 different building sites, with no project management, and no central control”.

The City wrote to all affected landowners in October last year advising them of structural concerns with the wall and its potential collapse, along with a proposed notice which would later require demolition of their section of the wall.

In December, council decided to pay to co-ordinate the project to ensure it was replaced to a high standard and keeping a “consistent street aesthetic”. Documents presented to council last week revealed $59,012 was required to complete all seven stages of the project management.

Unhappy with the price tag, councillors Mark Jones, Lorna Buchan, Craig Buchanan and Matthew Whitfield proposed revoking the motion at Tuesday’s meeting, stating that funding the project would create an “undesirable precedent” outside of the responsibilities of council.

Cr Jones said the cost was four times the amount that was originally advised, and project managing the wall would be a “major danger” for future cases.

But a City officer said project management was necessary because it was unlikely that individual property owners would effectively co- ordinate the works.

“The staged removal by individual property owners would require cutting the wall at their boundaries, removing their section of the wall and then installing a wall/fence of materials of their choosing,” the report said.

“Engaging a professional project manager who can consultatively take property owners through a facilitated process should result in less angst for property owners and a community outcome that provides a visually appealing and structural sound property boundary wall”

The decision to backflip on spending money on the wall was made narrowly, 6-5, with councillors Leigh Liley, Deb Hamblin, Sally Davies, Hayley Edwards and Mayor Barry Sammels voting against.

Landowners will soon be issued building orders to demolish and replace their own sections.

The subdivision estate wall facing Warnbro Sound Avenue and Holcombe Road in Warnbro.
Camera IconThe subdivision estate wall facing Warnbro Sound Avenue and Holcombe Road in Warnbro.

Roy and Angela Hughes, who have lived at their address for about four years, said the decision had sent landowners “right back to square one”.

Mr Hughes said the project would now involve “10 different landowners, working on 10 different building sites, with no project management and no central control.” “It’s interesting that what seemed to be a workable solution has gone away now that the council has money problems,” he said. “We are both in our 70s and would be most happy to see the end of 15 months ongoing worry and frustration.”

Cr Jones said the Department of Commun- ities had a “moral obligation” to take the lead, given they were responsible for the development and construction of the wall, and own two of the properties.

Department assistant director of general assets Nigel Hindmarsh confirmed the department had built the development in the 1990s and it was “likely” they were responsible for the construction of the wall.

But he said factors including weather cond- itions, excavation within yards adjourning the wall, installation or replacement of the footpath next to the wall or services in the area of the wall could be responsible for its alleged lean.

“For these reasons, the responsibility to replace or repair the wall should be borne by the affected landowners collectively. As one of those landowners, the department will work with other affected landowners to co-ordinate the replacement of an adequate estate fence or wall,” he said.

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