ACT News

Mr Fluffy sites should not be forcibly acquired from owners, housing association says

The ACT government should not compulsorily acquire Mr Fluffy homes, but should help owners to replace their contaminated properties, an industry association says.

The Housing Industry Association of the ACT has submitted to the ACT asbestos taskforce a list of options for dealing with the houses, which includes single dwelling replacement and the building of dual-occupancy properties.

While compulsory acquisition is listed as the natural progression of the option of voluntary acquisition, it is "one which would ideally not be employed".

The association's ACT/southern NSW executive director Neil Evans says although under territory legislation the government could go ahead with it, "they'd be a silly government to do that".

"I think the government thinks that this is going to be a simple job; I think it's going to be very complex," he said.

"I think you're going to have a whole lot of different affected individuals and families out there who are … going to have different timeframes and ideas in their mind."


Mr Evans, who is a member of the Community and Expert Reference Group, said the association presented the information to the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce in July.

The ACT government is negotiating with the Commonwealth over a buyback and demolition scheme and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher confirmed last week a compulsory buyback was on the table.

The association has also thrown its support behind the ACT government's decision to delay major infrastructure projects to deal with the Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos crisis and help those affected.

"I think it's the right thing to do. I don't think jobs and the economy are going to be affected," Mr Evans said.

"Theoretically, there's going to be an extra 1000 houses that they'll have to build."

The ownership-retention models in the document explored options to help home owners who did not want to leave their neighbourhood or liquidate their asset.

This includes single dwelling replacement where the home owners had been considering demolition or major renovation work and had the means to finance it – with the government paying the cost of demolition and remediation of the site.

There is also the option of dual occupancy or subdivision under two possible scenarios.

Owner project management would see the government fund and manage demolition and remediation of the block and the owner would oversee the redevelopment of the site with two new homes. This would enable one to be sold or rented, while the owners lived in the other.

Or the government could manage the project in a shared-equity arrangement where the owner is unable or does not wish to take on the project responsibility or risk.

The government would recoup costs from the sale of the second dwelling and any return above an agreed benchmark for the second dwelling would be divided between the parties in accordance with the equity arrangement.

The association also proposed that along with fast-tracking the approval process, the government should waive charges such as tip fees, asbestos removal charges, lease variation charges and approval fees.

"Whether the government knocks them down or whether the owner wants to project manage that through a builder, I think that's up to the individuals and the individual situation on how they want to do it," Mr Evans said.

"After all, I know it's government-leased land, but it's their home and they should have that choice."

Some Mr Fluffy owners have opted to put their homes on the market before a decision is made on the scheme.

A week ago, what is considered to be the first Mr Fluffy home openly marketed as such sold at auction.

A second home has now been listed on the market and opened for its first inspection last Saturday.

The home at 68 Gouger Street in Torrens is being marketed as a huge block of land with potential to maximise a new residence with the views over Woden Valley.

Agent Mario Sanfrancesco from Peter Blackshaw Manuka said the owners, who did not want to speak publicly about their decision to sell, had lived in the home for more than 25 years and were moving to Queensland.

He said he expected interest in the home would begin at the land value, which is listed as $518,000.