Akl high-rises with combustible panels being re-clad

4:12 pm on 23 June 2017

Two multi-storey buildings in Auckland where combustible aluminium panels have been found are being re-clad to make them more weathertight.

Boats moored in waters in front of the Auckland city skyline: February 2014

Auckland Council is checking 90 buildings to determine whether any use combustible aluminium panels on their cladding. Photo: AFP

Auckland Council has found two high-rise buildings clad with combustible panels similar to those implicated in London's Grenfell Tower disaster. Aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene (PE) core are suspected to be behind the rapid spread of last week's fatal apartment block fire in London.

The council has so far looked closely at 21 out of 90 high-rises identified with aluminium composite cladding of some type.

It has so far ruled out taking samples of aluminium composite panel off buildings to check how flammable it is - which is being done by authorities in Britain at a rate of up to 100 buildings a day.

But it said this could change as a result of talks with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The council said the two buildings with combustible cladding were privately owned.

"Both these buildings incorporate residential tenancies," it said.

However, it said, the old cladding was now being replaced "due to concerns over its weather-tightness performance". New, fire-rated, cladding was being put on.

"Work on one of the buildings has commenced and the other building is in the final stages of consent approval. The occupants are required to vacate the parts of the building where work is taking place.

"We have recently spoken to the project managers reminding them of the need for appropriate fire safety mitigations through the remediation process."

Last week it said it had detected no inappropriate use. But it said yesterday it had now found two buildings over 25m high with PE panels.

The buildings were constructed in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

The council has not said which buildings they are, where they are, or how many residents are affected.

Wellington and Christchurch city councils began their own checks in recent days, spurred by MBIE's response to the London Grenfell Tower fire.

The Christchurch City Council said it expected its checks would identify about 100 buildings with aluminium composite panel.

It is working through a list of 1200 high-rises.

The head of building consenting at Christchurch council, Robert Wright, said they were only checking if the cladding was what was approved in the consent.

"If what's been consented is there, then we're not in a position to do anything retrospectively about it unless a warning or ban under the Building Act is issued by the chief executive of MBIE."

The ministry, in its letter to major city councils this week, said it "recommends" they approach building owners if extensive combustible panel is found, and that owners "should" consult a fire engineer.