A student accommodation building in Brisbane has been denied occupancy permits by local government due to concerns over the installation of potentially combustible non-compliant cladding on its exterior.

The Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works refused to provide occupancy permits for a residence in the Iglu student accommodation building on Mary Street in Brisbane, while the Brisbane City Council indicated that it was investigating issues in relation to building product issues.

Iglu is majority owned by Macquarie Capital and Singaporean sovereign wealth GFC, who acquired the development in 2014 with the hope of reaping robust earnings from the strong demand for accommodation amongst overseas students.

The Queensland government’s decision to deny occupancy permits to residents has scuppered these plans, and has reportedly compelled Iglu to find alternative accommodations for tenants who have already entered agreements.

Iglu has nonetheless issued an statement via its official website claiming that concerns over fire safety issues were “alarmist and absolutely misleading,” and that the company was “satisfied and absolutely confident that Iglu Mary Street is of high quality and safety standard.”

Concerns have risen over the use of sub-par building products within the Australian construction industry following the fire which broke out at Melbourne’s Lacrosse Apartments toward the end of 2014.

An official investigation into the fire concluded that the use of non-compliant exterior cladding abetted the spread of the blaze across multiple floors of the building.

The use of combustible exterior cladding is also believed to be responsible for a fire which spread across a high-rise hotel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve, with reports that the use of similar materials is rife throughout the region.

Jarrod Edwards, the Victorian Building Authority’s director, technical and regulation, recently said the use of non-compliant building products was a serious problem for inner-city Melbourne.

A recent VBA audit of 170 buildings in the CBD and surrounding suburbs of Melbourne uncovered what Edwards’ called an “unacceptably high rate” of the usage of non-compliant materials.

  • I couldn't see any statement that you reference on the official concerning the problem with Iglu Brisbane

  • Good to hear that Queensland and Victorian local authorities are enforcing the building standards. We have standards for a reason.

  • So when would a building with this type of cladding be safe to occupy and for whom. We have seen a number of buildings in Vic be deemed safe. But who are they safe for everyone?

    What about people that use mobility aids that cant use lifts, people with ambulant disability which means a stair decent will be extremely slow. We have seen with the recent "The Address" luxury hotel fire in Dubai how quick the stairs filled with smoke. Are you telling me this is a safe place for people with a disability to wait?

    Australia needs to take a leaf out of China, Japan and other Asian countries that provide alternative solutions such as evacuation smoke masks and the like in all rooms for occupants to use in an emergency.

    Check out this video and tell me we should stick people with disability into these locations as a stop gap measure

  • Not sure Victoria is actually enforcing building standards. The Lacrosse fire was 14 months ago but still no official outcome or disciplinary action, and the building remains fully occupied with no rectification of the non-compliant facade.

  • I understand that it was a Design and Construct Contract – surely the Builder would have checked for compliance before using combustible cladding – who was the Builder anyway?

  • An interesting looking building – pity

  • This is not simply a serious issue for inner city Melbourne as Jarrod Edwards stated. It is a major issue for all Victorians and Australians. Regardless of our day job, we are all building consumers – all at risk of enormous financial loss and in danger of losing our lives. The quality of the built environment is already well and truly lost.

    The problem has been identified and the solutions are plain. Government action is required, but all Governments are determined to prop up a rotten industry. If a few good men and women…… where are they?

  • Upon reading the article companies and people who are investing in the commercial properties have to do some serious investigations about what they purchase. But people's safety comes first regardless of who they are, so the authorities are right not to issue any occupancy permits until this matter is cleared up. How would the owners of the building feel, if a fire broke out and killed the occupants.
    The real questions that needs to be answered, is what can we do to fix the problem of non-compliant cladding being installed. And how did this happen, it's all good to blame someone for this. But we need a better understanding of where all the checks and balances are in the system. As the construction and regulation of a building can be complicated. We need to educate each other so this does not happen again.

  • Disappointed to find the "combustible material" not named? What was the facade built out of, or are they not sure what it is, hence the investigation…. ?

  • Once again, the people and organization that was contracted to building this project to scope, and with material the conform to the BCA (Building Code of Australia) are Not Mentioned in the editorial …. but everyone else is mentioned – Igle (the lessee), Macquarie Capital and Singaporean sovereign wealth GFC (the owners) …. BUT who is the builder ???

    ProBuild > This is what they have to say >

  • If, as Peter suggest and the article implies, this all means that standards are at last being enforced then that is a welcome and long overdue development.

    Whilst stopping importation is difficult (though we should have mandatory sampling and testing), occupancy permits should not be issued unless the building is genuinely safe.