Residents of the Ivy left without power as Greens call for stronger rules on new apartments


Kirsten Lawson

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Apartment owners in a new block in Franklin, Gungahlin, are moving in this week without power, after they were told they must install their own meters.

And they could be waiting some considerable time, with Actew AGL saying on Friday that for big developments such as the Ivy the connection could take up to 45 days.

James and the other people have moved into the Ivy Apartments in Franklin but have no power because the builder didn't ...
James and the other people have moved into the Ivy Apartments in Franklin but have no power because the builder didn’t install meters.  Photo: Elesa Kurtz

James moves into his one-bedroom apartment on Monday, but imagines he will be “sitting in the dark until the power comes on”.

The individually owned apartments have hot water, through a central electrical connection, but no other power.

James said he had checked some time ago with Actew and was told there were no complications. But when he called on Thursday he was told there was no meter, and a number of other residents were in the same position. He paid $560 for the meter, and now must wait.

“This is my first place I’ve ever bought and it’s kind of taken the shine off the whole experience to say it politely,” he said.

Richard, who like James doesn’t want his last name published, is getting married in a week, with relatives arriving from overseas to stay. He and his fiancee moved in on Thursday, and have plugged an extension cord into an outside power point, running it under their door to a multibox, to power a lamp and the television. They use a torch in the bathroom.

Richard said he called ActewAGL in August to organise the connection, and had called many times since. At one point, Actew told him it couldn’t find the apartment on a network map, and more recently that there was no request for service from the developer.

While the real-estate agent had assured him the paperwork had been done many weeks ago, Actew said the paperwork had only come through last week. He was finally able to book an installation last week, and pay $563, but was told it would take up to 20 working days to happen.

Richard says he doesn’t understand how a certificate of occupancy could be issued at the end of July without power.

The real-estate agent, from Metropolis, did not want to comment. The builder, Chase, said the problem was with Actew, which began charging for meters to be installed in July 2015.

ActewAGL energy networks manager Stephen Devlin said meter connections in new buildings were “a standard part of the building development process, which is the responsibility of the building developer”.

Installations of up to four connections were done within 20 working days, but bigger developments such as the Ivy could take up to 45, he said.

Attention was drawn to the impasse at the Ivy on Nullarbor Avenue by ACT Greens candidate Jen Faerber, who said it was bizarre for a developer to treat something as basic as electricity as an optional extra.

“The Canberra community shouldn’t suffer for the profit margins of big developers,” she said.

The Greens launched a new policy on Thursday aimed at improving construction and certification in apartment builds across the city.

Much of the apartment design in Canberra would not be allowed in NSW, the Greens said, with complaints about builders and defects doubling since 2009 to 350 a year.

President of the Australian Institute of Architects Ken Maher said the ACT should look to the standards introduced in NSW about 10 years ago, setting minimum apartment sizes and design rules including sunlight and siting.

“It’s been a very successful program in NSW for ensuring high quality in new residential apartment building and I think it really set a standard that now some other states and territories are starting to consider,” he said. “If it’s left to the market the standards tend to fall because there are cost pressure issues.”

Source : The Canberra Times

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