HIGH RISE FIRE CRISIS
37 unit blocks on cladding hit list
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.”