“As soon as government representatives knock on your door, you have simultaneously lost your home and been removed from your area,” she said.
Victor Xiberras, who was speaking on behalf of his 76-year-old mother, said he couldn’t understand why Sydney Metro’s latest offer to her was more than 70 per cent higher than the initial offer. “I thought the show The Castle was a joke, but this has played out right in front of me,” Mr Xiberras said.
Multiple residents questioned why valuers hired by the government had taken into account draft legislation for the conservation of the Cumberland Plain to diminish the value of their properties.
The inquiry heard that assessors could use future considerations, such as biodiversity, in deducting value from properties, but not consider the potential increase in land value from the area being turned into a potential commercial and residential precinct when calculating the market value.
Sydney Metro chief executive Peter Regan acknowledged the complexity in fairly compensating landowners uprooted by the major infrastructure project, saying “with perfect foresight the process would be different, but we don’t have perfect foresight”. He added the disparity between initial and later valuations could be due to additional land data becoming available.
“At no point have we attempted to low-ball or underpay,” he said.
Multiple Orchard Hills families have said they have not received definitive answers from Sydney Metro about why 65 acres needed to be acquired for the new Metro station when compared with considerably less land for other stations.
Mr Regan said all the properties that were being acquired were being used in the construction phase of the project, however it was unknown how much of the land would be eventually used to develop the surrounding station precinct, saying “all or part of that site may or may not be available”.
A spokesperson for Sydney Metro said: “As part of the compulsory property acquisition process, Sydney Metro’s independent valuers are required to assess market value which includes considering any relevant information in the market.”
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