HIGH RISE FIRE CRI­SIS

37 unit blocks on cladding hit list

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FRONT PAGE - LINDA SILMALIS CHIEF RE­PORTER

FAM­I­LIES liv­ing in at least 37 res­i­den­tial apart­ment blocks across NSW face mil­lions of dol­lars in bills to re­place flammable cladding them­selves.

Ur­gent re­pair no­tices have been sent to unit own­ers in build­ings iden­ti­fied as high risk of fire.

Al­ready 37 build­ings in the greater Syd­ney area, Wol­lon­gong, New­cas­tle and Port Mac­quarie are on the hit list.

RES­I­DENTS in 37 Syd­ney apart­ment blocks have been told their build­ings are po­ten­tial death traps cov­ered in flammable cladding that must be re­moved.

The apart­ment build­ings are all four-storeys or higher. They are among 123 res­i­den­tial build­ings in Syd­ney that have been iden­ti­fied by NSW Fire and Res­cue as po­ten­tially hav­ing high-risk alu­minium-based ex­te­rior pan­els.

Lo­cal coun­cil in­spec­tions con­firmed the cladding pan­els in the 37 apart­ment build­ings were dan­ger­ous and must be re­placed.

Another 40 build­ings are un­der­go­ing coun­cil as­sess­ments af­ter be­ing iden­ti­fied by Fire and Res­cue, and the fig­ure is ex­pected to rise as coun­cil as­sess­ment hasn’t started yet on the rest of the iden­ti­fied build­ings.

More than two years since the state gov­ern­ment be­gan au­dit­ing build­ings fol­low­ing Lon­don’s Gren­fell Tower fire, which was fu­elled by cladding and killed 72 peo­ple, it is the first time the num­ber and gen­eral lo­ca­tions of NSW res­i­den­tial build­ings with se­ri­ous in­flammable cladding prob­lems has been re­vealed.

Re­mov­ing cladding can cost up to $60,000 for each unit. The NSW Strata Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion has called on the state gov­ern­ment to pro­vide a fi­nan­cial aid pack­age, such as low cost loans, and to clar­ify build­ing de­vel­op­ers’ le­gal li­a­bil­i­ties.

Of the 123 res­i­den­tial build­ings iden­ti­fied by Fire and Res­cue, and ei­ther al­ready con­firmed by coun­cils to be clad in flammable pan­els, un­der­go­ing coun­cil in­spec­tion or await­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, 27 are in the City of Syd­ney lo­cal gov­ern­ment area.

The Ryde, Can­ter­bury and Par­ra­matta lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas each have nine build­ings.

Seven build­ings have been iden­ti­fied in Wol­lon­gong, six in Cum­ber­land and five in both the In­ner West and Waver­ley coun­cil ar­eas.

Liver­pool, Canada Bay, Hornsby and Suther­land each have four build­ings.

The Bay­side, Black­town, North­ern Beaches, Rand­wick, Strath­field, The Hills and Wil­loughby coun­cil ar­eas are each home to three build­ings.

Two build­ings in the North Syd­ney lo­cal gov­ern­ment area, and one build­ing in each of the Camp­bell­town, Fair­field, Kur­ing-gai, Lane Cove, New­cas­tle, Port Mac­quarie and Wool­lahra coun­cil ar­eas were iden­ti­fied.

Coun­cils are work­ing with the own­ers’ cor­po­ra­tions on how they can rec­tify their build­ings. The state gov­ern­ment has es­tab­lished a spe­cial Cladding Sup­port Unit to work with coun­cils and re­quires re­moval of any alu­minium cladding con­tain­ing com­bustible ma­te­ri­als above 30 per cent.

Thirty-four gov­ern­ment build­ings have also been iden­ti­fied with flammable cladding.

NSW Strata Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Chris Dug­gan said some own­ers had been hit with spe­cial levies, from $20,000 to “much higher”, and were con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion against their de­vel­oper, while oth­ers were hold­ing out for gov­ern­ment help.

Greens MLC David Shoe­bridge has at­tacked the gov­ern­ment over not re­leas­ing the build­ings’ ex­act lo­ca­tions, say­ing: “Let us find out what prop­er­ties have flammable cladding on them.”

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