Russell Vale Tallowoods buyers fed up after delays removing asbestos contamination

HOW LONG: Buyers Ann and Paul Hughes, and Santi Enrile, have been asked for another $30,000 for decontamination works. Picture: Robert Peet
HOW LONG: Buyers Ann and Paul Hughes, and Santi Enrile, have been asked for another $30,000 for decontamination works. Picture: Robert Peet

A prominent Russell Vale housing subdivision has stalled two years after the developer was forced to stop work and clean up asbestos contamination on the site.

Purchasers had paid a deposit to the developer, a company called Keerong Investments, for land off the plan – four years ago. 

But remediation of the site, on the corner of the Princes Hwy and Keerong Ave, has still not been completed and ticked off. 

The asbestos removal has not been approved, with the initial cleanup strategy halted and a new plan required.

Relations between buyers and the developer have deteriorated, with purchasers being told to communicate with Keerong through lawyers.

Paul and Ann Hughes paid a deposit on a block off the plan in late 2014. They say this has cost them rent, mortgage payments, deposits and tender price rises.

“We both had a goal for a debt-free retirement and now at 54 years of age, this is now looking unlikely,” he said. “These delays have put significant strain and stress not only on ourselves, but other purchasers of land at Tallowoods.”

Wollongong City Council confirmed that the site is still being remediated. When a remediation process is completed, site audit reports are provided to council showing soil test results. This had not occurred.

Keerong Investments has four directors, including real estate agency MMJ North directors Greg Ellul and Roger Hughes. MMJ North was the project’s marketing agent.

Before communication broke down, Keerong had asked purchasers for another $30,000 each to fund the rehabilitation. 

Some agreed but several were reluctant to pay, particularly if some of the material was to have been buried on their land under the remediation plan. 

In May Mr Ellul told buyers Keerong had not yet been able to secure finance to complete the project.

The Mercury has contacted Mr Ellul and Roger Hughes twice seeking comment. Last week Mr Ellul said he had forwarded our questions to Keerong Investments’ lawyers. No response has been received.

Keerong has pointed out to buyers that they can get out of the land purchase contracts under a sunset clause.

After selling their previous home, Paul Hughes said they just wanted the subdivision to go ahead as proposed. 

“We have been asked several times, if we want to exercise the sunset clause; this effectively would mean handing the land back to the developer and we would receive our deposit back,” he said. “[But] we are looking for the development to be cleaned to all levels, so that we can finally put this behind us and build our home.”