State takes a second shot at home acquisitions for hospital expansion

The state government has handed new acquisition notices to dozens of homeowners standing in the way of a hospital expansion in Sydney’s south-east to overcome “any uncertainty” from a landmark case that cast doubt over its compulsory acquisition powers.

After first issuing notices to homeowners in March, NSW Health’s infrastructure arm has sent out new ones for 34 of the 44 properties at Randwick it is yet to snap up for the $720 million Prince of Wales Hospital redevelopment.

Property developer Desane has succeeded in its legal battle to stop the NSW government’s attempt to forcibly acquire its land.

This time, it is giving homeowners just 30 days to negotiate before their properties are compulsorily acquired, considerably shorter than the 90 days it gave earlier.

The Herald revealed last week that about 165 acquisition notices handed to land owners for projects such as the hospital redevelopment, a new light rail line, road upgrades and the WestConnex toll road are at risk of becoming invalid or lapsing within weeks.

Doubt has been cast on a further 86 properties that authorities plan to acquire for projects such as the Parramatta light rail line, after property developer Desane recently won a legal battle to stop the state from forcibly buying land at Rozelle for WestConnex.

In the new notices, Health NSW told property owners it was withdrawing the previous notices and issuing new ones to “address any uncertainty” from the Desane judgment.

And it warned homeowners that if an agreement to sell could not be reached by July 17, their properties would be compulsorily acquired shortly afterwards.

Sam Sarkis received a new acquisition notice last week for his Randwick home.

David Newhouse, a lawyer acting for about a dozen clients at Randwick, said homeowners had already undergone significant stress and they wanted to know why they had been given only 30 days to reach a settlement before their homes were compulsorily acquired.

“My clients have all been under stress,” he said. “They have been given no explanation.”Add to shortlist

Health NSW said new proposed acquisition notices were issued last Wednesday to people who had interests in 34 properties that had yet to agree to sell.

“Homes and businesses have been door-knocked and, where possible, affected owner-occupiers and tenants were given the new notices by their personal managers,” it said in statement. “Each property owner is being supported through the process.”

The agency said the issuing of new notices would have “no material impact” on the purchase of properties for the hospital expansion, and compulsory acquisitions were scheduled to take place in late July.

Randwick resident Sam Sarkis, who received a new acquisition notice last week, said property owners had been subjected to a “horrible ordeal” that had wasted a year of his life.

“The way they have treated us has been bad. If I argue it, all it does is create more stress,” he said.

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