State Government to take a bigger role handling apartments with high-risk combustible cladding

Local councils will be handing over the management of Victoria’s riskiest apartment buildings with combustible cladding to the State Government.

Forty-three building complexes in Melbourne have been identified in an audit as having high fire risk due to flammable cladding used in construction and Planning Minister Richard Wynne has declared the Victorian Building Authority to be their building surveyor.

This means the VBA will be responsible for scrutinising and overseeing the rectification works on these buildings.

“The minister made this move on the advice of the Cladding Taskforce, the VBA and the planning department as they are the buildings in the highest risk category which may require centralization of expertise,” a VBA spokesperson told Australian Financial Review.

“The VBA will continue to work closely with councils, but this should be a faster process with both the VBA and the local MBS working together.”

“The VBA acting as MBS will alleviate the burden on local government, ensuring any work is completed as quickly as possible.”

The actual number of apartment buildings around Australia with combustible cladding is unknown and the 43 high-risk buildings in Melbourne have not been revealed by authorities.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade has released an enhanced response list of nine buildings it regards as being at the highest risk of burning quickly.

The move by the State Government could be the start of a more uniform approach to assessing and rectifying buildings instead of individual municipalities doing the work.

It also addresses fears that local councils don’t have the capacity and know-how to deal with the nation’s growing cladding problem, a point made by property consultancy Roscon Group’s Sahil Bhasin.

“The respective councils are not adequately resourced to handle claims of such technical nature that take a magnitude of time,” he told AFR.

“There needs to be a state-wide approach.”


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