The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) has called on the development industry to commit to higher building standards, saying public faith in apartment towers is at a tipping point.
PIA chief executive officer David Williams said concerns over poor-quality construction – dramatically underlined by the evacuation of the Opal and Mascot Towers in Sydney – have the potential to discourage apartment-living.
“The problems affecting the Opal and Mascot Towers appear to be structural and therefore engineering-related,” Mr Williams said.
“But they reinforce public perceptions that some new and existing apartments are badly built, often with poor fit and finish, acoustic problems and moisture incursion. We can’t afford to let bad tall-building construction undermine efforts to enable more diverse housing and more sustainable development patterns in Australia’s cities.”
Residents of the 10-storey Mascot Towers complex in Sydney were forced to evacuate the towers at short notice on Friday night last week after cracks were found in the building’s beams.
The PIA said it supported efforts by the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Building Ministers Forum to put a reform roadmap in place to better regulate the building industry.
Engineers Australia said the Mascot Towers situation was further evidence of the need for change in the building and construction sector.
“The evacuation of Opal Tower was a major wake-up call for NSW to get serious about reform. It is time to finally implement the changes agreed by COAG in response to its inquiry into regulation of the sector,”
Engineers Australia national manager for public affairs Jonathan Russell said.
“While it is too early to know the root cause of the Mascot Towers failure, the COAG report recommendations offer a program of comprehensive reform that will deliver confidence back to the sector.”