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Lacrosse cladding dispute drags on

02 Nov 2017

By Sunny Liu

The decision on who should pay for the removal of combustible cladding on the Lacrosse building has been further delayed until late 2018.

No meaningful discussion or resolution was reached at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) directions hearing on October 25, when the Lacrosse owners’ corporation and builder LU Simon’s representatives agreed to have a 30-day hearing starting on September 1, 2018.

The hearing will decide who is responsible for replacing the combustible building cladding that fuelled a fast-spreading fire three years ago.

In October 2015, the City of Melbourne ordered the 400 Lacrosse apartment owners to replace the external cladding but the owners’ corporation is demanding that LU Simon pay for the replacement, the cost of which could reach $5 million.

VCAT deputy president Catherine Aird told the owners’ corporation and builder at the October hearing she was concerned nothing might be done until 2019.

“September is already towards the end of the next year… and it would be a disaster if this is not finished by next Christmas, because this will go onto the following year,” she said.

Apart from disciplinary actions by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) against the building surveyor and LU Simon in 2016 and a failed VCAT action for the builder to install balcony sprinklers instead of removing the cladding, no action has so far been taken to address the issue of non-compliant cladding.

It is likely that four years after the fire at Lacrosse that caught the nation’s attention, the residents would still live in a building covered in combustible cladding.

LU Simon is fighting a separate case in the Supreme Court, where it is seeking to prohibit the VBA from giving it a “direction to fix” the cladding on six other buildings.

In the Lacrosse case, the tower will be subject to a building order issued by the City of Melbourne.

A further six buildings, including the Mariner building in NewQuay, have been recently revealed to have non-compliant cladding.

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