Sharp rise in construction breaches

By David Schout

The number of infringement notices issued to construction sites for after-hours building work has risen to almost one per day.

The sharp increase, revealed to CBD News by the City of Melbourne, has seen the council issue 117 notices this financial year (to November 20).

The “majority” of these infringements, according to the council, were for construction work outside local law hours, which stipulate that work can take place between 7am-7pm on weekdays and 8am-3pm on Saturdays.

All fines for construction work outside-of-hours are issued at $2000.

Should the current rate continue to the end of the financial year, the council will have issued 299 notices.

This represents a sharp rise in breaches, compared with 159 in 2017-18 and 115 in 2016-17.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said it decided to act after noticing a rise in grievances from those affected by noise and nuisances from works.

“We take noise and other complaints relating to construction activity seriously, as construction needs to be proactively managed in the interests of our residents and visitors,” the spokesperson said.

“This financial year, additional resources have been put in place to address the growing number of complaints relating to construction activity.”

CBD resident Corinne Torres, whose unit directly overlooks a Lonsdale St construction site, is one of more than 500 people who complained about after-hours noise last year.

Noise complaints rose 9 per cent (from 461 to 503) in the past financial year.

Ms Torres said offences ranged from contractors starting work 40 minutes early, to crane operators warming up their engines before 7am.

“To me it is a systemic issue, and not isolated offences,” she said.

Mr Torres said that, while she understands it was difficult to catch offenders in the act, especially on weekends, the council could better deploy its officers.

“This (particular) project started in January 2018 and there have been numerous offences reported to the council, with pictures and videos provided by residents as proof of offences.

I see the respect of local laws as a shared responsibility. I feel council could do way more with the resources they currently have.”

Cressida Wall, Victorian executive director of the Property Council, said despite the increase, infringement numbers were still “small” and in some cases accidental.

“The vast majority of developers abide by regulations imposed by authorities,” Ms Wall said.

“This data shows a small number may inadvertently or otherwise fail to comply and, rightly, they receive an infringement.”

The City of Melbourne is the fastest growing municipality in Australia, and the CBD is currently host to several large-scale construction projects.

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