20 December 2017
In response to the growing controversy surrounding the non-compliant use of cladding materials following the Lacrosse and Grenfell Tower fires in Melbourne and London, the NSW Government has released draft regulations for public comment as part of its ten-point plan for fire safety.
The draft regulations introduce a new scheme to collect information on the prevalence of combustible cladding in certain high-risk buildings, and will require owners of multi-storey residential and commercial buildings with combustible cladding to register their buildings and pay for expert independent fire-risk assessment. Also released was a proposal to tighten the exempt development framework (as it applies to combustible cladding) by amending various State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs).
The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has released a consultation draft of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2017 (Cladding Amendment).
The Cladding Amendment establishes a scheme for the collection of information about certain types of buildings that have had combustible cladding applied to external walls.
‘Combustible cladding’ is defined as:
The scheme will apply to all buildings in NSW, except:
Essentially, the scheme will apply to all multi-storey buildings except residential buildings under two storeys and non-residential buildings under three storeys.
In its current form, the scheme will also extend to all future buildings constructed after the Cladding Amendment commences. However, the DPE has indicated that, given stricter fire safety controls will apply to new constructions subject to various recent reforms in this area, it is considering whether to limit the Cladding Amendment to only apply to new buildings if they were approved before it commences.
The scheme will impose a duty on the owner of a building to which combustible cladding has been applied to provide information to the DPE, unless that building is an excluded class of building.
The information must be provided in two stages: the ‘registration’ stage and the ‘statement’ stage.
1. Registration stage
The registration stage of the scheme requires the owner of a building to which combustible cladding has been applied to provide the DPE with the following details:
A building to which the Cladding Amendment applies must be registered with the DPE within the following timeframes:
Registration will be required even if an owner has already obtained an expert report stating that the cladding on the building is safe.
Authorised fire officers and local councils are also granted powers to require the owner of a building to register details of the building and any cladding applied to it with the DPE.
2. Statement Stage
The statement stage of the scheme requires the owner of a building to which combustible cladding has been applied to provide the DPE with a ‘cladding statement’.
A cladding statement must include:
Building owners will not receive any government subsidies to engage an expert to complete a fire risk assessment of their building, and are wholly responsible for funding and organising the preparation of a cladding statement.
A cladding statement must be provided to the DPE within the following timeframes:
Under the Cladding Amendment, the proposed penalties for failing to register a building or provide a cladding statement are set at $1,500 for individuals and $3,000 for corporations.
Once a building has been registered, the DPE will enter the information (including the cladding statement) on a register, which may be provided to Fire and Rescue NSW or otherwise made public.
The collection of this information is intended to prevent further fires by enabling Fire and Rescue NSW to prepare pre-incident plans and assisting Local Councils to issue fire-safety orders.
To complement the proposed reporting scheme, the NSW government also released an Explanation of Intended Effects with the Cladding Amendment.
This details a proposal to amend various SEPPs to reduce the risk of non-compliant combustible cladding being installed on high risk buildings as exempt development. These amendments turn on the new definition of ‘combustible cladding’ which is introduced by the Cladding Amendment.
SEPP (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 is proposed to be amended to specify that:
The following SEPPs are also proposed to be amended to provide that the installation of cladding and decorative work on external walls can be undertaken as exempt development only when the material used is not combustible cladding:
Specific amendments are also proposed for the SEPP (Kosciuszko National park – Alpine Resorts) 2007.
Both proposals are open for public consultation until 16 February 2018.
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