Western Australia’s most iconic eyesore is finally being demolished after an epic battle between its fertiliser tycoon owners and the local council.
Pankaj and Radhika Oswal’s $70 million partially built mansion dubbed the ‘Taj on Swan’, in the well-heeled Perth suburb of Peppermint Grove, was abandoned after the couple left Australia in December 2010 following the collapse of their ammonia company, Burrup Holdings.
The home was to include seven domes, a temple, gym, swimming pool and parking for 17 cars.
But the building site has deteriorated, with reports it had become a haven for squatters and drug addicts, and used to host illegal parties.
Taj on the Swan being demolished
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Peppermint Grove council is owed $108,000 in unpaid rates and the Australian Tax Office has a freeze on the sale of the property over millions in alleged unpaid taxes.
The couple will continue to own the 6600-square-metres block, which sits on prime riverfront real estate in Perth’s wealthiest suburb.
Michael Smith, a spokesman for the couple, told the ABC the Oswals had no problem with the demolition going ahead and they had people “liaising with the council”.
“They plan to sell the property, they will engage consultants to work out the best way to dispose of the land,” he said.
“The contract cost of the demolition is $89,000 plus GST.
“The Oswals have agreed to pay this amount to the council.”
‘A dangerous eye-sore’
Peppermint Grove council shire president Rachel Thomas said the demolition would take about three weeks, but locals were happy it was finally happening.
“We are very, very glad that it is going. Apart from being an eyesore it is a dangerous structure,” she said.
“It has been a terrible, terrible experience for the neighbours who have never known if they are going to be disturbed at night by kids having a party [in the abandoned site] and it has been a real nightmare for the council because the owners have done nothing, or very little, to secure the property.”
The demolition attracted dozens of onlookers from neighbouring suburbs and afar.
Last month, ANZ reached a commercial settlement with the Oswals after the couple sought $1.5 billion over the terms of sale of their ammonia empire by the bank.
The couple had argued the $US560 million sale of their 65 per cent stake in 2012 represented less than half its true value.