Reports of overcrowding at Melbourne’s ‘Lacrosse Building’
Ahn Jae Wook
27 June 2017
Allegedly overcrowded conditions at the infamous Lacrosse building are
set to be investigated following reports that apartments were being
crammed with half a dozen people in an apparent breach of the occupancy
News Corporation has reported that Melbourne City Council is set to
investigate reports of overcrowded conditions in the building, which
created headlines in late 2014 as flames ripped up the side of the
building which was later found to contain cladding which was
combustible and which did not meet the requirements of the National
Construction Code for which it was used.
Whilst the current occupancy permit specifies a maximum of 36 occupants
per floor (an average of 2.4 per apartment), The Australian has
reported the case of 28-year-old Columbian student Diego Rey, who
claims to be sharing a two-bedroom apartment with five others.
Both the Municipal Fire Brigade and the City of Melbourne building
surveyor have raised concerns about overcrowding in the block.
Following the Lacrosse fires in 2014, it emerged that some apartments
were being used as multiple accommodation units on a commercials basis
and in some cases containing between six and eight beds—some let out
on short term leases via Airbnb and similar web sites.
In the Lacrosse case, the MBF in its report on the incident said this potentially led to two problems.
greater level of storage
First, overcrowding led to a greater level of storage in relation to
personal belongings within the apartment and on the apartment balcony –
a factor it said created a higher fuel load which enabled a more
intense fire to develop.
the erection of temporary
In addition, the high occupancy rate led to the erection of temporary
structures assembled around beds to create privacy, which along with
furnishings and other contents may impede clear egress from the
As all this is going on, apartment owners have until July 2018 to
remove the cladding and are in the process of suing builder LU Simon
for $16 million to cover the cost.
Whilst the 2014 fire was started by a cigarette on a balcony, the MFB
found that the combustible cladding contributed toward its spread.
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