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Fire risk apartments ‘didn’t follow approved plans’

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Melbourne apartments built using non-compliant cladding were not constructed in accordance with approved plans, it has been revealed.

The Harvest Apartments at 144-150 Clarendon Street, Southbank, are a particular concern to authorities because there is no sprinkler system in place, aside from in the basement car park.

City of Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss, whose council includes Southbank within its boundaries, told insuranceNEWS.com.au there were “inconsistencies” between the plans and the constructed building.

The council has issued an emergency order requiring that additional smoke detectors and heat attenuation screens be fitted to the building.

If the works are not carried out a “forced evacuation” of the premises will take place.

Apartment owners have also been issued with a building notice requiring them to “show cause” as to why certain works should not be carried out.

“Issues identified in the building notice include combustible cladding installed on the external walls of the building and unprotected openings and no sprinkler protection above ground level,” the council says.

“At the expiration of the building notice, the owners’ responses will be considered and a further building order may then be issued.”

Fire Protection Association Australia CEO Scott Williams told insuranceNEWS.com.au it is good to see the council taking proactive action.

“They are clearly taking it very seriously, which is good. But at the same time we are very concerned.

“This building has not been built in accordance with the Building Code, and when you go back to the permit, it is not what was applied for.

“This is the most dangerous type of building in Australia, built just under 25 metres so there is no requirement to fit sprinklers.

“We have an interesting month ahead to see how the owners respond.”

The issues at the Harvest Apartments were discovered during an ongoing audit by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

About 170 CBD buildings are being checked following a devastating blaze at the Lacrosse apartments in Docklands last November.

The fire spread rapidly due to the presence of flammable building cladding imported from China and not tested to Australian standards.