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Property Developer Threatens Senior Residents in Kurrajong with Legal Action

Sep 3, 2023

The family of local property developer Matthew Bennett has threatened residents of a seniors’ development at Kurrajong they are running, with legal action if they talk to the media.

Lawyers representing Pamela Bennett, 86, the mother of Richmond-based property developer Matthew Bennett, have issued a detailed legal letter – a copy of which has been seen by the Hawkesbury Post – warning the residents of the Tallowood development in Kurrajong. It demands that they commit in writing to remain silent, as a dispute between them and the Bennetts, concerning an extension of the development they bought into almost a decade ago continues to escalate.

The project has divided the community, with residents and the property developer clashing over control and rights concerning the development’s extension. Specifically, the two sides are arguing over whether Tallowood residents have any rights over a Lot they collectively own that the Bennetts wish to now further develop, or whether those rights were ceded under contracts they signed when they bought into the development.

Development has begun on the Tallowood extension at Kurrajong.

Tallowood residents have spoken out in both traditional and social media against the new development and the Bennetts treatment of them. Observers have said that Matthew Bennett appears to be attempting to hide his interest in the development by using his mother’s ownership of one of the Lots of the development and name her as the developer. Bennett has steadfastly claimed he is not a property developer.

tallowood – Hawkesbury Post

The letter from Sydney legal firm Mills Oakey partner Peter Meades was sent not only to the residents but also to all Hawkesbury City councillors – except Bennett’s domestic partner, Sarah McMahon and her predecessor in the role, fellow Liberal Patrick Conolly  –  as well as council managers. McMahon and Connolly, along with Councillors Paul Veigel and Mary Lyons-Buckett previously recused themselves from voting on the development. Councillor Les Sheather, who has previously noted his close friendship with Bennett, did not recuse himself from the vote and voted in favour of the Bennetts’ development plans. 

The correspondence titled “Final Warning”, dated 30 August 2023, has sparked outrage among the affected residents. In the letter, Pamela Bennett’s legal representatives threatened Supreme Court action if the residents fail to comply with their demands within seven days. The crux of the demand is that residents provide “a written undertaking to refrain from any further unlawful activity or defamatory statement which you know or ought to know (whether you make it or have others make it) to be incorrect.”

The letter claimed residents had made defamatory comments in the media but did not detail what they are.

It’s the second time in as many weeks that Bennett’s family has tried to weaponise the legal system to silence critics. Last Tuesday, his domestic partner McMahon in her role of Mayor, sent police around the home of the Hawkesbury Post’s publisher and editor Samantha Magnusson in an effort to obtain a provisional Personal Apprehended Violence Order. The police concluded that they were unsatisfied she had a legitimate complaint.

A Matter of the Newspaper, Police, and the Mayor – Hawkesbury Post

The letter not only threatens the residents of the senior’s development with potential court costs but also accuses their media comments of causing “loss and distress” to the property owner, 86 year old Pamela Bennett. The Bennett camp appears resolved to bring the matter to a decisive legal conclusion, seeking “declaratory and potentially injunctive relief from the Supreme Court of New South Wales.”

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