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Cladding audit marks 77 city buildings for further inquiry

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Adelaide Oval and the new Royal Adelaide Hospital are among 77 city buildings earmarked for further investigation after a widespread audit in the wake of the London’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire.

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An audit of cladding on 4500 buildings in Adelaide’s CBD revealed no safety risks, Planning Minister John Rau announced today, however, checks identified 77 buildings that warrant further consideration.

Rau said these were largely buildings “where occupants are likely to be unfamiliar with the means of escape or require assistance to escape”, including apartments, motels, hotels aged-care facilities, hospitals and schools, and structures authorities were “concerned about from a risk and safety point of view”, or whose façade incorporated “some element of aluminium composite panels” that were used as cladding in the London blaze.

Rau said 38 of the buildings earmarked “appear to have very limited or quite isolated panelling”, leaving 39 structures which will require further consideration.

He emphasised the panelling was “not in of itself illegal” nor necessarily dangerous.

“South Australians should not be alarmed at the use of aluminium composite cladding on buildings in the CBD,” he said, adding that “certified ACP cladding products are safe, when installed in accordance with the National Construction Code”.

Governments around Australia have recently undergone similar audits of buildings with aluminium composite panel cladding.

The SA review is being undertaken by the Planning Department, the MFS and Adelaide City Council.

MFS Chief fire officer Greg Crossman told reporters the nRAH and Adelaide Oval were among the significant public buildings identified for close attention in phase one of the testing process, along with the SAHMRI building and the Convention Centre.

But he emphasised that in “all of those buildings I can assure the community there is nothing to indicate there’s non-compliance”.

“Nothing on that list is identified as a high risk,” he said.

Of the new hospital, he said: “I can assure everybody that the cladding that was used in nRAH meets the conformity requirements of that building.”

“I have no concerns that the nRAH is not safe in regards to cladding,” he said, adding that it was “extremely safe” in all design elements.

Property Council SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said the Grenfell Tower fire had “sent shudders through Australia’s property industry”.

“We already have high building standards in SA, but if there are lessons to learn from the UK then we should put that learning into practice,” he said.

“One area where we are working with government is non-compliant products. It’s in everyone’s interest to be sure that the materials specified for a project are what is delivered.

“Where sensible improvements can be made to improve the flow and availability of information on compliance with building codes, the industry will back them in.”

Master Builders SA boss Ian Markos said the audit had taken a “deliberate and grounded approach”.

“The State Government has done the right thing by taking a measured approach, not creating panic and fear when there was little cause,” he said.

“Of course we’re pleased that the audit has confirmed none of the buildings represent a safety risk, and we’re interested in the second phase to see whether they comply with the National Construction Code and the focus on essential fire systems.”

But acting Opposition Leader Vickie Chapman called for the full audit to be released, saying “South Australians must be reassured that our buildings are safe and that this audit has been conducted properly”.

“The only way to do that is for the Government to release the audit report… I’m not going to just be taking John Rau at his word,” she said.

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