Everyone Out as City Tower Forced to Fix Power

Fiona Tyndall
Australian Financial Review, 22 October 2004

Residents in one of the nation’s biggest strata schemes will be locked out of their properties for a day next month in the largest compulsory evacuation in Australia’s history.

Work on an EnergyAustralia substation will leave about 2000 residents barred from their homes and offices from 8am until at least 6pm on November 16. It is another hiccup in the building’s checkered history.

The apartments, Sydney’s Regis Towers in the CBD, came to fame after suffering a number of building defects, which developer Meriton says are now fixed. Regis Towers, whose strata management and body corporate were dismissed in 2003, comprises 653 lots.

The executive committee of the owners corporation wrote in an open letter to residents that essential services had to be carried out on the site “because of refurbishment and modification to the electricity supply system”.

Sonia Fenton, strata manager at Body Corporate Services, said the work required was not related to a property defect.

EnergyAustralia said that insulation material between the switchboard and the distribution substation that services the building needed replacement. Since this work needed to be done the owners corporation decided to refurbish the switchboard on the same day.

“We have got no claim against the developer,” Ms Fenton said.

“The building was built to Australian standards and in hindsight it is a very big building to be supplied by one power source.”

A spokesman for EnergyAustralia, Alec Brown, said he could not comment on whether the work required on the insulation material was related to deterioration or was the result of a problem at the time of the apartments’ construction.

“Because it was work carried out by a contractor for a third party all we can say is we carried out a routine inspection and it didn’t meet our guidelines,” Mr Brown said.

The former chairperson of the executive committee and Regis Towers resident, Stephen Goddard, said he wanted a more detailed explanation for the inconvenience.

“Somebody is responsible for an evacuation of a new building,” Mr Goddard said.