Three years on, vacated $2.6 million public housing block still empty
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Three years on, vacated $2.6 million public housing block still empty

A $2.6 million public housing development has sat empty for three years as the government and builder remain locked in a legal standoff.

The ACT government is currently pursuing legal action against the builder, certifier and structural engineer of the block which was deemed unsafe in early-2016.

The Braddon public housing has sat empty for three years because of a dispute between the government and builder.

The Braddon public housing has sat empty for three years because of a dispute between the government and builder. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The building, at 11 Lowanna St in Braddon,  was built in 2012 but remains abandoned and fenced off since early-2016 due to fire safety and construction concerns.

A former tenant previously told The Canberra Times anonymously that within months of moving into the building after it was completed in 2012 conditions deteriorated.

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Cracks appeared in the wall, there were gaps between tiles and the skirting boards and when it rained their apartment would flood.

Built by Bellerive Homes, it was deemed to not be up to its fire rating, with the government and builder at odds about what fire rating the building should be certified at.

The government has said the desired outcome of legal action was to "achieve a safe habitable property for Housing ACT tenants".

Bellerive Homes managing director Adre de Waal said it was a 'Type B' fire rating, which was a rating normally given to two-storey buildings.

The ACT government told The Canberra Times it was a 'Type A' building, a rating normally reserved for apartment blocks.

Despite the reasons for the standoff, Mr de Waal said the government did the right thing by closing down the building.

However, since he last spoke to The Canberra Times in December 2017, he said nothing had changed.

"The government says we haven't fire rated the building correctly," Mr de Waal said.

Mr de Waal said if the fire rating was deemed to be incorrect, it would include adding additional materials to the building's walls and treating the concrete slabs.

"It's a terminal thing," Mr de Waal said.

He argued the addition of a secondary ramp to the building had seen the government argue it was a Type A fire rated building as Type B buildings can only occupy a certain land footprint.

He said by just removing the ramp for $50,000 the building could remain a Type B building.

"I don't know what they want me to do," Mr de Waal said.

"We mustn't forget all certifications, including certifications from the fire brigade, were obtained when we got certificate of occupancy."

"Everyone and his uncle involved in signing off on those buildings signed off on B-class."

He said this whole process could potentially put him out of business and his company had ceased doing government work seven years ago.

The former tenants of the building have been relocated from the block which was made up of 10 one- and two-bedroom units  and cost $2,610,874.99 to build.

Finbar O'Mallon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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