Arson Squad Release New CCTV Video After Suspicious Fire at Cliff Road Northwood in Sept 2022

    Arson Unit detectives addressed the media on 29 November 2022 to appeal for public assistance as they continue to investigate a suspicious house fire at 62 Cliff Road Northwood on 3 September 2022. They have also released additional CCTV footage.

    Detectives are hoping this new CCTV image may prompt someone to come forward with information.

    Moments before the historic house erupts into flames, an unknown man is captured running towards a van.

    The vehicle is described as a silver Toyota HiAce Van with roof racks (see our cover photo). It was seen driving on and near Cliff Road Northwood at the time of the fire.

    The Silver Van Seen on Cliff Road Northwood – Picture Source NSW Police
    Man Captured Fleeing From 62 Northwood Road Picture Source: NSW Police

    Anyone who may have dashcam vision from vehicles parked or driving on Cliff Road on Saturday, 3 September 2022, is urged to contact the police.

    CCTV Footage Released 29 November 2022

    CCTV Footage Released 12 September 2022



    At around 10.50 pm last Saturday Night (3 September 2022) sirens could be heard throughout Lane Cove, as fire crews responded to a fire at 62 Cliff Road Northwood.  Over thirty calls were made to Triple000 alerting NSW Fire and Rescue to the blaze.

    More than 50 firefighters took just under an hour to control the fire which had engulfed the home, causing the roof and other parts of the home to collapse.

    Crews were able to stop the blaze from spreading to neighbouring properties.

    One FRNSW crew remained on site overnight to ensure the fire was completely extinguished, and there were no reignitions.

    The house was unoccupied, and there were no reported injuries.

    Neighbours told ITC that they first smelt smoke around 10.50 pm and not long after flames were leaping about 20 meters into the air as the roof caught fire.  Between 11.00 and 11.30 pm neighbours heard some sounds like gunshot sounds.  The sound was caused by the water in the slate roof heating and expanding.

    Photo Source Amelia Slack-Smith

    The Police Media Unit told ITC the following:

    “The fire is being treated as suspicious, with detectives attached to North Shore Police Area Command and the State Crime Command Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit investigating the cause of the blaze. Anyone with information is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

    On Sunday morning,Fire and Rescue NSW sent in a specialist dog team to inspect the ruins of the property.

    Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry said:

    “Fire and Rescue NSW has three dogs that have the capacity to identify or eliminate the use of flammable liquid after a fire.”

    On Monday morning, the police door-knocked neighbours to see if they had any CCTV.


    House Sold in November 2021

    In November 2021 the house was sold to Y F Chen or more than $24 million.  The next door neighbours are fund manager and next-door neighbours Ouyang Chen and his wife Xiao Hong Li for more than $24 million.

    The house is on a double block and included a cellar and a tennis court

    The house was put on the market after being owned by the Rossi Family for 60 years.   Merri Rossi family purchased the house in 1961 for £16,000 on the recommendation of artist friend Lloyd Rees.

    Merri Rossi was a trailblazer and the first woman in Australia to have her own televised program – A Woman’s World with Mary Rossi. The weekly national daytime show featured Mary interviewing interesting people from all around the world on current affairs.  Read more here.

    The Rossi Family enjoying a family lunch on the Verandah

    Heritage Listed

    In November 2009 Lane Cove Council commissioned a heritage report of homes in the Lane Cove Council Area.  In the report, it was recommended that 62 Cliff Road be included in the Lane Cove LEP as a heritage item.  The report stated:

    “62 Cliff Road – Federation dwelling Number 62 is historically significant as one of the earliest built on the Northwood Estate auctioned in 1904. The dwelling has been sympathetically altered to include garages and the addition of stone wall to Cliff Rd. It has landmark qualities and contributes to the streetscape of Cliff Rd.”

    60 and 62 Cliff Road Northwood – Development Applications History

    The current owner of 62 Cliff Road Northwood (the house that burnt down) is Y F Chen and the house next door is owned by XH Li and OY Chen.

    62 Cliff Road Northwood – Y F Chen

    The current owner has not lodged a Development Application for 62 Cliff Road.  A DA was lodged by the Rossi Family in 2017.  It was rejected on the basis that insufficient evidence had been supplied in relation to whether or not the land was contaminated and issues relating to the driveway.  The family was surprised the DA was rejected as they were in the process of providing further information to Lane Cove Council when a decision was made to reject the DA and their consultants have been talking to Lane Cove Council about the further information required.

    60 Cliff Road Northwood – Y F chin
    A Development Application was lodged for 60 Cliff Road Northwood in 2021, and the DA was refused by the Local Planning Panel in 2021.
    There were 26 reasons for the refusal of the Development Application including it an impact on 62 Cliff Road.  An extract from the Local Planning Panel decision is below:
    Read the full Local Planning Panel decision here.
    A section 8.2 Review of Determination – New Dwelling house was lodged on 5 July 2022.

    The Review was referred to the Local Planning Panel and the Executive Summary provided to the Panel for the Review is below:


    “The Development Application is an 8.2 review for the part demolition and significant alterations to the dwelling house including a rear addition, a swimming pool and related landscaping.

    The proposed development was accompanied by a Clause 4.6 written request to vary the building height control by 20.4% (existing portion of building). The Clause 4.6 written request is satisfactory for reasons outlined in this report.

    The Development Application is subject to other state environmental planning instruments including SEPP (Resilience and Hazards) 2021, SEPP (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021, SEPP (BASIX) 2004 and SEPP No. 55 – Remediation of Land. The proposed development as conditioned by Council satisfies the relevant SEPPs.

    The Development Application was notified in accordance with Council policy and 5 submissions were received. The concerns raised included building height, bulk and scale, view sharing and privacy.

    The original 8.2 review proposal failed to address all the reasons for refusal.

    Council issued a Request for Further Information on 01/09/2022 prescribing amendments to address the outstanding reasons for refusal and the key concerns from the submissions.

    Council received amended plans on the 09/09/2022 which addressed the outstanding matters as detailed in this report. Notification of the amended plans was not required under Council policy as the amended plans addressed concerns raised in the submissions.

    The Development Application is therefore reported to Panel with a recommendation for approval.”

    The Lane Cove Council recommended to the Local Planning Panel the DA for 60 Cliff Road be approved (that is NOT the heritage home that was burnt down).  The Local Planning Panel agreed with the Lane Cove Council’s recommendation and the DA was approved.  You can read the Lane Cove Council Local Planning Panel decision here.

    Summary of Lane Cove Council’s report below:

    In the Cove is making NO suggestion that the Development Application for 60 Cliff Road and the Arson investigation are linked.

    Help Support Local and Independent News

    You can support us in three ways:

    1. If you own a local business or a Lane Cove resident who owns a business, you can advertise with ITC – our packages start from a $30 monthly fee (for a 12-month commitment). Could you email us here for our rates card?
    2. Buy the ITC  team a coffee – our office is nearly every coffee shop in Lane Cove, and we regularly meet locals at coffee shops – buy the ITC team a coffee (or two) here.
    3. Become an ITC reader sponsor –  Feel free to be a reader sponsor if you have enjoyed our local news coverage – no amount is too small or too big. Thank you thankuch to the people who have already supported us via our press Patreon account. Help Us Here.