Toplace Apartments

By Bev Jordan

Complex negotiations are still being carried out to find a builder to complete work on the Skyview apartment complex in Castle Hill opposite Castle Towers Shopping Centre.

A spokesman for The Hills Shire Council told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News this week that Building Commission NSW is currently working with receivers and managers to appoint a contract to complete the Hydra, Phoenix and Vela Towers.

“Council staff will continue to work alongside Building Commission NSW to address the defects in these buildings,” they said.

Last month (May, 2024) the Supreme Court wound up JKN Hills PTY Ltd which was the Toplace entity responsible for the remediation works.

Buyers were blocked from moving into the $900million apartment complex in 2021 after the NSW Building Commissioner confirmed “extensive signs of cracking” were discovered in the basement of the buildings.

Thousands of homeowners have been caught up in the collapse of Toplace, one of the biggest private apartment developers in Sydney for over a decade.

As well as the five towers (Lyra, Carina, Hydra, Phoenix and Vella) in the Skyview project Toplace companies also built the Atmosphere building on Old Northern Road, Castle Hill, Grand at Kellyville and was building Box Hill City Centre, bounded by Terry Rd and Mason Road at Box Hill and a townhouse development in Watkins Road, Baulkham Hills.

The dVT Group was appointed as administrators to over five entities related to the Toplace Group after Toplace’s building licence was suspended in March 2023. Around $436 million is owed to unsecured creditors, including $146 million relating to strata bodies’ defect claims, $85 million to tradies and suppliers and a reported $25million to the Australian Tax Office.

In answer to questions from the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News, a Shire Council spokesperson said: “Development consent for the Atmosphere building approved 378 residential apartments, most of which are occupied.

“In 2018, an Interim Occupation Certificate was issued by a private certifier and that was the subject of a complaint managed through the Department of Fair Trading.

“Since then, Council staff have raised concerns about the extent of the building’s defects and have requested Building Commission NSW to take regulatory action against JKN Hills Pty Ltd to fix the defects.

“In June 2021, Building Commission NSW issued a Prohibition Order on JKN Hills Pty Ltd to prevent the issuing of a final Occupation Certificate. In 2022 and 2023, Building Commission NSW also issued Building Works Rectification Orders on JKN Hills Pty Ltd to rectify the building defects. As JKN Hills Pty Ltd has gone into liquidation, Council staff are working with the Strata Manager, owners of the building and their fire engineer to address the defects in the building.

“Regarding the five Skyview Towers, in June 2021, an interim Occupation Certificate was issued for the Lyra and Carina buildings, which certified these two buildings were safe to be occupied. Both buildings are occupied. Since then, Council and Fire and Rescue NSW have raised concerns about the defects of these buildings. Building Commission NSW is currently investigating these defects.

“In September 2023, Building Commission NSW issued a Prohibition Order and a Draft Building Works Rectification and is working with the appointed receivers and managers to address the defects in the building.

“These two examples are very concerning to Council as unit owners are exposed to large strata fees to fix defects that should have been the builder’s responsibility in the first place.

These are examples where the independent building certification system should be overhauled to protect consumers and if it is not fixed, these examples will make housing targets all the more difficult to resolve.”

On June 15th 2023 Hills Shire Council issued Toplace with a notice to rectify fire safety issues at its Skyview Apartment building after the partially completed apartment complex failed a Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) inspection.

FRNSW discovered several fire safety breaches including an inoperable and dry fire hydrant system (for the three of five buildings under construction within the complex), faults, isolations, and disablements on the fire indicator panel, problems with the emergency warning and intercom systems, issues with the absence of fire compartmentation in the basement carpark.

A media statement from Hills Shire Council at the time said staff also inspected the building and identified issues with the sprinkler system, non-compliant ceiling heights, non-related fire services found in the fire stairway and problems with fire doors not opening and closing, amongst other safety breaches.

In July 2023 the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News reported that Antony Resnick and Suelen McCallum of the dVT Group had been announced as voluntary administrators of Toplace Pty Ltd.