The NSW Government has opted against evacuating residents from a ten-storey apartment tower located in Canterbury, despite an engineer’s report claiming the building is at serious risk of collapse.
The building, located on Charles Street and developed by The Toplace Group six years ago, is claimed to have major structural flaws that could lead to the eventual collapse. Emergency inspections were undertaken yesterday, with a group of engineers and the state’s Chief Emergency Engineer coming to the conclusion that the risk to the safety of the residents is not ‘immediate’.
The report was undertaken by a structural engineer from Rothshire, who was hired by the building's owners. The engineer says he has ‘lost confidence in the building’s structural safety’ and concludes that the tower is a ‘risk to occupants’. As well as this, the report says the collapse to the building could lead to ‘catastrophic damage’ to the two other apartment buildings within the Vicinity complex. Toplace has vehemently denied the claims, arguing that its own team of experts have been sent out to review the building separately.
After reading the report, NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler says the government will now “take the time necessary to review the materials gathered during the investigation.”
Chandler concedes there needs to be temporary actions taken in order to make the building compliant with current building codes and increase the safety of the tower for residents. Many residents from the 276 apartments were prepared to evacuate yesterday, having already packed bags if the building was deemed uninhabitable.
The 271-page report outlines the building has a ‘magnitude of support deficiencies’ and is at severe risk of collapse if an earthquake occurred. Given the recent 5.9-magnitude earthquake felt in Melbourne and the sheer unpredictability of moving tectonic plates, there is genuine concern the building could collapse during a shock natural disaster. The report claims the building is ‘highly vulnerable’ and could well collapse due to its ‘high load irregularity’. The building is cracking in some places, with the report also saying it has ‘failed structural members’.
Toplace argues that it has received technical advice from industry experts that ultimately rejects the report. The developer claims the information within the report conducted for the owners is ‘plainly wrong’, leading to ‘incorrect conclusions’.
Approximately 50 residents attended an annual meeting last Wednesday. During that meeting they were told of the findings within the report of the building’s overall safety.