It’s an unforeseen peril of dramatic architecture – a building meant to inspire awe that instead triggers minor panic.
Nanjing Night Net

In the Pathumwan district of Thailand’s capital last week, the removal of some scaffolding from a 30-storey luxury hotel, the Rosewood Bangkok, sparked fear among city dwellers, as the building appeared to be leaning to one side.

The Bangkok Post reported that photos of the building were widely shared after they were posted on Twitter, with concerns expressed that the Rosewood was on the verge of tipping over onto an adjacent apartment block, the Noble Ploenchit.

But after local police received complaints and sent officers to investigate, they established that it was just an optical illusion created by the new hotel’s distinctive architectural design.

“We have found out that the rumours are not true. It’s just that this building is designed differently from others,” Superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Duangchot Suwancharas told The Nation.

The building’s “lean” extends from the 10th floor to the 33rd floor, but it is only external.

The social media swarm also prompted the project’s technical director, Dr Assawin Wanichkorkul, to hurry to the site to confirm nothing was wrong. An artist’s impression of the Rosewood Bangkok. Source: KPF.

The shape of the Rosewood is inspired by the Thai greeting known as the “wai”, and its two connected towers will provide “opportunities for terraces, shrinking floorplates, and unique, occupiable spaces”, according to the project website.

Construction is due to be completed and the hotel ready to open in 2019. #Bangkok – #Noble#Ploenchit – Design of building is misleading (Thai) https://t.co/rhkmGQELM4#NotLeaningTowerofBangkok??? Incident Alerts (@Incident_Alerts) August 15, 2017Downtown panic as new building seems to tilt https://t.co/IQOKk25XGQpic.twitter南京夜网/GBOhoqUxaO??? Bangkok Post (@BangkokPostNews) August 15, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

I’m on a hunt for Wonga Park’s rich and reclusive. Two things are for sure. The first: I won’t find them at The Village Centre. This small brown-bricked shopping strip once housed a butcher, a baker, a candle stick… Okay you get the picture.
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Let’s make that a supermarket, post office, hair and beauty shop and the obligatory fish and chips shop. Now it’s an eerily abandoned strip. Printed letters, obviously posted hastily on the aforementioned doors, announce that their leases were up. It seems that suddenly, two years ago, the shopkeepers were forced outta there.

The second thing that’s for sure: the rich and reclusive are not hanging at Jumping Creek Reserve. The only person hanging around Sandy Bay Carpark midday mid-week is a possibly dodgy dude ringing my “don’t get out of your car” alarm bells. There’s no way I’m tackling the Jumping Creek Nature Trail (two kilometre, 30-60 mins return) and I quickly move on.

The Jumping Creek part of Warrandyte State Forest Park borders Warrandyte, while the other side of Wonga Park borders Bend of Islands. Croydon and the shopping mecca of Ringwood are not far away.

Warrandyte, Wonga Park and Bend of Islands have one thing linking them: the Yarra River. While Warrandyte’s village fronts the beautiful expanse of brown, Wonga Park’s access is a little more discrete.

So how do you find it? You can scout around aimlessly, past mansions hidden up driveways with grand, locked gates, only to come face to face with “no access to river!” signs, or you can ask someone who knows. “Turn left, and left again!” says Lisa from the warm oasis of Kellybrook Winery.

Kellybrook is one of the best surprises of Wonga Park. This winery is a blast of warmth on a cold day, a haven in a suburb that really doesn’t have too many highlights. Here you can taste an exhausting variety of wines, and pick up local foodie goodies for a picnic. They grow pinot noir, cabernet, shiraz, sav blanc, chardonnay and gewurztraminer on site, and have a ripping range of apple ciders, including apple brandy ($80 a bottle) for sale. Related: A suburb not famous for anythingRelated: Secret suburb you’ve never heard ofRelated: Baristas, this suburb needs you

And they can tell you how to find the non-signposted Yarra. Immediately, Wittons Reserve feels like a special place. It’s traditional Wurundjeri Women Country, and a sign lets visitors know that this is a sacred spot and that a re-enactment of a traditional Women’s Ceremony was held here in 2014.

There’s a gathering of other sorts here today: of BMWs and late model Volvos. Is this where the rich and reclusive come out to play? It’s the starting point of the Mt Lofty Hill Walk (five kilometres, one and a half hours, according to Manningham Council’s brochure) and I wish I’d brought my trail-running shoes. Others are out running, and walking, and being serenaded by kookaburras and currawongs.

Some way in, there’s a signposted swimming spot. The Yarra is churning up, flashing white water out of the brown. It’s quiet, no one’s around. Just the noise of the river, the background of old gums and tea-trees.

I ponder that this suburb is one of the few actually named after an Aboriginal leader (Simon Wonga). There’s something special, and dare we call, it, sacred, about this place, just forty minutes from Melbourne. Maybe this is the rich and reclusive we were looking for.

Five things you didn’t know about Wonga Park: Every fourth Saturday of the month (this Saturday) Wonga Park Primary hosts the Wonga Park Farmers Market. It’s on from 9am-2pm.Every last Sunday of the month (this Sunday) Kellybrook Winery has free music with a local band.Into the #waronwaste? Apiary Made is made in Wonga Park. As well as making medical-grade honey, they make pretty and reuseable food wraps from wax collected from bees that buzz around Kellybrook Winery.The Scouts have an almost 20-hectare property in Wonga Park called Clifford Park. It’s not all running and jumping in nature, though; they run electronics workshops for Scouting groups, too.Apparently permits have lapsed for renovations for The Village Centre, but goodies (and petrol) can be bought from the mixed business shop on Yarra Road, or the Foodworks on Jumping Creek Road.

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A fierce battle over disused laneways in Melbourne’s northern suburbs has led to accusations Darebin council is trying to sell off residents’ backyards, pitting pensioners against cashed-up developers.
Nanjing Night Net

The policy affects 4000 homes backing onto 30 kilometres of disused laneways in 10 suburbs, including Preston, Reservoir, Coburg, Northcote, Fairfield and Thornbury, and involves council trying to sell parcels of laneway to adjoining properties.

Owners who have had sections of laneway fully enclosed in their property for decades have been shocked to receive council notices saying that part of what they believed to be their back garden must be split between neighbours, or sold off to the highest bidder.

Greg Goldenberg, a Reservoir resident who successfully battled to save his garden, says other residents have lost large sections of backyards they had used exclusively for up to 40 years because council had claimed full rights to the land.

“The council said if the land was sold to someone else, and the resident refused to vacate, they would forcibly take the land, relocate the fences, and charge for the exercise,” he says.

Former Darebin councillor Bo Li accused the council of “placing 70-year-old pensioners against cashed-up developers who see a 10-metre strip of land that’s worth a lot of money to them, because it means they can build an extra unit”.

Documents provided to Fairfax Media show council giving residents incorrect legal advice and pressuring them to buy sections of laneway it didn’t actually own, because the titles were still held by long dead 18th or early 19th century subdividers. Related: Squatter makes adverse possession bidRelated: What price a Melbourne laneway?Related: Laneway masterstroke in Fitzroy renovation

The documents also show council officers enforcing the policy two years before council voted to adopt it.

After distressing arguments with council, a growing number of residents are using adverse possession laws that enable them to gain ownership of a disused laneway if it has been fenced inside their property for 15 years or more.

“There are three major cases other than mine that were won in exactly the same way, and there would be at least 24 other adverse possession claims still going through the titles office within the Darebin area alone,” Goldenberg says.

“The council used what were effectively bullying tactics and some local pensioners lost backyards they’d looked after for many decades.”

Northcote resident Andrew Schudmak was shocked when told part of his property enclosed for more than 30 years would be auctioned off.

“Slicing off three metres at the side of my property would drastically reduce its value and visual appeal and require the demolition of my garage,” he says. “The council’s policy deliberately sets neighbour against neighbour and has caused huge distress.”

Schudmak says after the council refused his offer of $40,000 for the land, he was able to gain title by adverse possession at far less expense.

Arthur Stabolidis of Reservoir, another successful adverse possessor, tells a similar story. “The agent who sold me the house didn’t point out that 75 square meters of the land was marked as a road on the Section 32 papers,” he says.

“When I talked to councillors, they said I could be up for $75,000, that the land would be either sold between neighbours or go to the highest bidder if we couldn’t agree, and that I’d need to pay the costs of removing trees and replacing fences.”

Darebin mayor Kim Le Cer – elected to council last year – did not respond to questions about council’s past actions, but described the current policy as “problematic and inconsistent with community expectations”.

“I am concerned the review called for in 2015 has not already taken place, and have been reassured by officers today that consultation will now urgently take place in order to revise the policy,” she said.

Phillip Leaman, of Tisher Liner FC Law, a leading expert on adverse possession, advises people to seek legal advice before responding to council offers to sell them unused roads, old laneways or reserves that are enclosed within their properties.

“In many cases, residents can acquire the land without paying the council anything,” he says. “Even if they have only owned the property for a short time, it’s possible to prove previous owners have had the land enclosed for decades.”

The Victorian Titles Office says it receives an average of 200 adverse possession claims a year, and that usually only 25 of them are either rejected or withdrawn.

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I found the perfect house. It has four bedrooms, a study, a freshly renovated kitchen and a laundry the size of a carport. And a carport. It has a huge garden and a swing set.
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It didn’t just tick all the boxes on my “deal-breaker” list – it ticked boxes I didn’t even know I had. I was mentally unpacking our moving boxes before I reached the end of the photos. The best bit? We could afford it.

Of course there was a catch. The dream house, as I came to call it, wasn’t exactly in our desired postcode. It wasn’t even close. Living in the dream house would mean packing up our inner-west rental and moving 90 kilometres to the Blue Mountains.

There were lots of reasons to go for it. Comparing the dream house with similarly priced property in the inner-west was mind-boggling. Looking to buy in our current neighbourhood would probably mean squeezing our family into a two-bedroom unit, and even then we would be pushing the mortgage a little further than we comfortably want to go.

On paper it seemed like a no-brainer and I decided it would be crazy not to move to an area that we can afford. I felt the tug of the dream house and envisioned family life within its walls. The four of us around the kitchen table, the kids running wild in the garden, walking the dog (who would surely join our family once we had the space) and working from home. Everything would be perfect.

The Blue Mountains has a lot to offer. The scenery is magnificent and there are countless activities for outdoor family fun. Townships such as Leura, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba are heaving with cafes and shops and, despite the obvious tourism, there is a strong community vibe.

It’s a decision that many families have been weighing up. Although property prices in the Blue Mountains are increasing (the region has seen 12.5 per cent price growth over the past year), they are still attractive compared to Sydney prices. On top of this, transport links have improved and developments such as the new airport will bring more jobs to the area.

In my little dream-house fantasy we were all really happy living in the Blue Mountains. And maybe making the move would have been great. But my heart just wasn’t in it. Every time I found myself talking about a tree change I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Related: I made a sea-change at 25Related: The realities of living in the countryRelated: The new generation of country-dwellers

I suppose I am a city girl. I like to be near the action. I enjoy the fact that I can walk to local cafes, shops and the gym in under 10 minutes and only drive if I really have to.

My children are very happy and settled at their inner-west primary school and the thought of dragging them away from their friends made me sad. I know that had we gone the other way they would have adapted and made new friends, but staying put means preserving the friendships they’ve been cultivating since pre-school.

A tree change would have also given my husband a major commute. There are ways of lessening the blow; working from home a few days a week, working on the train and potentially sleeping in the city one night a week. But the cost to family life would be high.

Most importantly, for me, I couldn’t bring myself to leave my network. Since moving to Sydney (from London) 10 years ago I’ve had six different addresses in four different suburbs and I’ve never felt as settled as I do now. And it’s my community of friends and neighbours who make me feel at home. Yes, I could build a new network – but when I weighed the life we have now to the life we could have my instincts told me to stick.

I deleted the dream house from my Domain favourites and removed the Blue Mountains from my search criteria. If staying in the inner-west means downsizing then so be it – our home might be (a lot) smaller than it could be, but our hearts will be full.

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More than a year after a monster storm swallowed 50 metres of Collaroy Beach and destroyed beachfront homes, one of the locals has returned his house to the property market.
Nanjing Night Net

The campaign to sell builder Patrick Finlay’s two-storey house was interrupted on June 6 last year when huge waves and an eight metre king tide struck, leaving 10 houses that line the beachfront uninhabitable and at risk of falling into the sea.

Although there was no damage to Finlay’s house, which is set back from the beach, three of the 10 beachfront homes that bore the brunt of the destruction remain unoccupied 14 months later.

As locals hold out in hope the state government will give approval for a seawall to be built to protect the homes, work started this week to restore the balcony of the Beach Club Collaroy.

Finlay first listed his Pittwater Road property with a $3.6 million guide last year, having redesigned the house since he bought it in 2006 for $2 million.

The four-bedroom home, with separate living areas and a level rear lawn with direct beach access, is now set to go to auction on September 23. McGrath’s David Rothschild has a $4.2 million guide.

Fears the storm may have turned buyers off the beachfront look to have been baseless, after three contracts were issued within hours of the property hitting the internet on Monday.

Collaroy’s median house price has risen 9.7 per cent in the past 12 months, to a high of $2,277,500, according to Domain Data. Related: Coastal reforms on hold a year after stormRelated: Erosion swallows 50 metres of Collaroy, Narrabeen beachesRelated: Shifting storms under climate change to worsen

Another house sale on Collaroy Beach that was interrupted by the storm involved property owned by Spiro Toursounoglou. At the time, an asking price of $3 million for the three-level house was set before its planned June 15 auction.

However, it was withdrawn when the storm hit, and is not expected to return to the market in the immediate future.

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