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    Melbourne’s glut of non-compliant buildings growing; more found with flammable cladding

    Nathan Johnson

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    The list of Melbourne buildings found to have flammable cladding is growing as the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) continues its External Wall Cladding Audit of high-rise building permits in Melbourne.

    The VBA is currently auditing 170 high-rise building permits issued in the past 10 years for central Melbourne and its immediate surrounding suburbs, and has so far found 16 buildings with non-compliant cladding as a result.

    The audit began after an investigation into the 2014 Lacrosse Apartments fire in Melbourne’s Docklands found that non-compliant aluminium composite panel (ACP) on the building's external walls were found to have significantly contributed to the spread of the fire.

    The VBA’s latest release of buildings with non-compliant cladding totalled seven but all the buildings were deemed “safe for occupation” by Melbourne City Council’s (MCC) building surveyor.  In fact, of all the audited buildings under MCC’s jurisdiction to have been found with non-compliant cladding have been deemed safe by the MCC except for a residential property at 144-150 Clarendon Street, Southbank which will undergo minor renovations.

    The Royal Women's Hospital and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre were also found to have non-compliant cladding installed and were referred to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as the appropriate governing authority. The DHHS's independent building surveyor determined the buildings safe for occupation and is now determining the appropriate action.

    The VBA says it is important to note that 'non-compliant' does not necessarily mean the building is unsafe to occupy and that the buildings deemed suitable to occupy have a number of safety features to protect occupants from fire.

    “If a building has ACP that does not comply with the NCC, it may still be considered safe to occupy because of the presence of these safety features,” reads the VBA website.

    This includes:

    • early-warning systems (alarms) connected to fire and smoke detectors
    • evacuation pathways protected from fire and smoke
    • automatic fire sprinkler systems
    • construction of internal walls to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within the building
    • construction materials to limit the spread of fire.

    Additionally, in all the reports from the VBA and MFB there has been no suggestion that the architect or project manager were responsible for the installation of the non-compliant wall panelling.

    The seven latest buildings to be found with non-compliant cladding as released by the VBA late January, 2016 are:

    410 ELIZABETH STREET

    • Name: MY80
    • Height: 55-storey skyscraper
    • Apartments: 482

    607 SWANSTON STREET

    • Name: Tune Hotel
    • Rooms: 225

    557 LITTLE LONSDALE STREET

    • Name: Metro Park West
    • Height: 26-storeys
    • Apartments: 195

    750 COLLINS STREET

    • Height: 10-storeys

    100 LORIMER STREET

    • Name: Array
    • Height: 40-storeys

    8-10 KAVANAGH STREET

    • Name: Triptych
    • Height: 29-level
    • Apartments: 11

    1020-120 KAVANAGH STREET

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