Work starts on project to remove flammable cladding

The work on the Darlington building comes seven years after a fire in Melbourne’s Lacrosse tower, which was fuelled by combustible cladding, revealed the dangers of materials used on high-rise buildings across the country.


Mr Anderson said the government had wanted to ensure it put in place a “safe, strategic, methodical plan, so it was done right the first time”.

Project Remediate provides owners interest-free loans to remove and replace combustible cladding, as well as access to experts and assurance that completed work will be accepted by insurers.

NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler said he wanted the buildings fixed as part of Project Remediate to be “absolutely the same quality all the way through” the program.

“Getting set before you go is what this project is all about,” he said. “We’ve got to do 200-odd of these, and what we don’t want to do, is to have 200 experiments. We want to have 200 projects where the performance of those projects are predictable, and that the outcomes are certain.”

Geoff Cliff, who represents owners in the Darlington building known as the Foundry, said the project offered a 10-year-interest-free loan, a design solution, and a guarantee of safe removal of cladding and installation of new material.

“The important thing for us is safety for the building and residents, and the fact that we get to pay it off over a 10-year period,” he said.

Foundry strata committee member Geoff Cliff.

Foundry strata committee member Geoff Cliff.Credit:Kate Geraghty

He estimated the cost to owners in the 42-unit building of fixing the cladding would total about $300,000. “For a small building, that is a significant amount of money that we are now having to fund for something we thought should have been done correct in the first place,” he said.

“Without Project Remediate, everyone would be stumping up that $300,000 within the next six months.”

So far, 155 buildings in NSW have been registered for the project.

Fire and Rescue NSW Assistant Commissioner Trent Curtin said combustible cladding was an unacceptable risk to residents and firefighters.

Workers remove cladding from the Darlington apartment building.

Workers remove cladding from the Darlington apartment building. Credit:Kate Geraghty

“When [firefighters] confront a building with combustible cladding, they can have falling debris coming off the side of the building,” he said.

“It also creates significant smoke inside the building that can overwhelm the smoke management systems and creates an untenable environment for both firefighters and for residents.”

Earlier this month, councils called for the NSW government to extend assistance beyond multi-storey apartment blocks to other building types which are found to have high-risk cladding.

The City of Sydney told a parliamentary inquiry that the assistance provided as part of the government program “probably is not enough” as it was a limited, loan-based system.

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