The ACT government is seeking a streamlined Mr Fluffy program for speed and safety
The ACT government intends to streamline the demolition of Mr Fluffy houses and provide land leases to former owners who cannot afford to repurchase and rebuild.
Amendments proposed by Chief Minister Andrew Barr would allow the taskforce to obtain a demolition order for certain homes without engaging a private certifier or going through a full building approval process.
Mr Barr said the amendments were necessary to ensure the demolition scheme could be completed as quickly and safely as possible.
The government’s buyback scheme, financed by a $1-billion loan from the Commonwealth, closed in late June, with 1005 offers made and 928 accepted.
According to the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce, five of the 1022 Mr Fluffy homes have already been demolished and another 38 are expected to go by the end of the year.
The demolition schedule, released earlier this month, revealed that 671 homes would be demolished over the next three years and 316 would come down in 2017.
Mr Barr said the demolition of many Mr Fluffy homes would be straightforward and would not require the additional oversight of a private certifier.
“The demolition order may only be issued if the construction occupations registrar is satisfied that a building approval is not required,” he said.
The registrar, an officer of the ACT Planning and Land Authority, would be provided with documentation consistent with the building approval process and evidence showing that utilities had been notified of the demolition.
Mr Barr said he recognised that the demolition process required specialist work and insisted the amendments would ensure all work was regulated and safe.
“Demolitions by the taskforce will be undertaken on a bulk scale, with safety and compliance controls achieved through other mechanisms such as procurement-and-contract requirements and work health-and-safety regulation.”
Andrew Kefford, the taskforce head, said the amendments would not reduce levels of scrutiny or oversight but would remove costs and streamline the process.
Under the amendments, WorkSafe ACT inspectors would need to be notified of any demolition five days in advance and a principal contractor would be assigned responsibility for minimising risk to health and safety.
Mr Barr said the amendments – which will be debated by ACT politicians in coming months – would also provide owners who cannot afford to buy their block with the option of land rent.
“The government understands that some affected homeowners may wish to maintain a connection to their former neighbourhood,” he said.
“However, some owners might not be able to afford the costs of repurchasing their former block as well as the costs of rebuilding a house.
“Where homeowners meet the eligibility criteria for land rent, the granting of a land rent lease will enable them to do both.”
Normally a land rent lease in new suburbs can be sold to another person, although the amendments would ensure the lease could only be given to a former Mr Fluffy owner.
Mr Kefford said the government had always intended to made land rent an option and the amendments would provide the formal legislation for it to occur.
“It is not the intention that another purchaser be granted land rent for that block – the amendments prevent transfer of land rent for former affected blocks only,” Mr Barr said.
“Consistent with the objective of reselling remediated blocks at market value, the amendments would mean that land rent leases for former affected blocks will only be able to be converted at market rate.”