Sydney: Complex with 900 new apartments can collapse

Approximately 1,000 recently finished apartments in the northern part of Sydney are in danger of collapsing due to “serious damage” to the concrete in their basements caused by faulty workmanship, as reported by the New South Wales building watchdog. The developer, Greenland, has received urgent rectification orders for the four apartment buildings in the Lachlan’s Line development on 23 Halifax Street, Macquarie Park.

The Building Commission NSW identified “serious damage and spalling of the concrete slab at the joint locations in basements and the ground floor caused by defective workmanship” during inspections last year.

The rectification order highlights a defect in a building product or element that may lead to the failure of the basement slab, resulting in collapse and destruction of the building or its parts. Greenland has been given a 14-month timeframe to complete the necessary work. While the building commission assured that residents in the apartments are not in immediate danger, emphasizing that the defects relate to the long-term durability of the basement levels, not the individual units.

The commission has been in contact with Greenland since August 2023, following an initial inspection. A spokesperson for the building commission emphasized ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with the order, rebuild trust, and enhance capabilities in the construction sector. The NSW government concurred with the seriousness of the defects, noting that they must be repaired to avoid long-term risks, even though immediate safety threats are not posed.

The inspection, conducted in August 2023, covered the 900 apartments within the buildings. Acting Assistant Building Commissioner Matt Press issued an order this week, demanding Greenland to rectify the identified serious defects compromising the structural performance and adequacy of the concrete slab.

The Greenland website describes the Lachlan’s Line development as featuring stunning apartments above a bustling town square with impressive interior design touches. The Building Commission had informed the developer, local council, and owners corporation in late October of its intention to issue a rectification order, sharing a draft copy of the order.

Greenland responded by early December with two specialist reports and a request to withhold the order. However, the commission deemed it appropriate to issue the order given the undisputed nature of the defect. Greenland Group, a Chinese real estate developer with global operations, including an Australian branch, has been contacted for comment.

In a related development, owners of apartments in Sydney’s Mascot Towers were offered relief by building commissioner David Chandler due to significant repair bills caused by cracks discovered in the basement in 2019. While this deal would clear unit owners’ debts, it is expected to provide significantly less than the original purchase price. Greenland has no involvement in the Mascot Towers situation.

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