Friday, November 14, 2008

Review of building permits needed

On two recent occasions I have had cause to follow up with Council regarding whether building demolition works had gone through the appropriate processes. Most recently when I was out letter-boxing, I spotted a local house where demolition had been done and broken fibre cement sheets could be clearly seen from the street.

While a bit of less-than-gentle pressure is seeing some Council action on this - asbestos testing of samples is to be arranged today - there is too little education and enforcement of building permit processes in Darebin.

The question for residents is whether they and their children want to feel safe knowing that demolition works in their neighbourhood have been through the appropriate checks for hazardous materials - of course they do. And, while most people do the right thing, Council needs to pay more attention to the small proportion of people who are less community-minded.

A final point is that the obligations to comply with safety checks and other building processes are all the more critical when larger-scale demolition works are undertaken. With lots of new development in Darebin (and a fair bit of over-development), Council needs to make sure that the demolition of large buildings to make way for apartments is accompanied by strict adherence to environmental hazard checks.

As I saw when campaigning for better disclosure about asbestos management during the demolition of the Roberts Street public housing estate, even the State Government needs to lift its game in this regard. There's certainly room for improvement for Darebin Council on this issue.

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