THE LAUREL SPRINGS INVESTIGATION
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THE LAUREL SPRINGS RETIREMENT VILLAGE
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Details of Findings
5. Non-compliance with approval conditions for village extension

5. Non-compliance with approval conditions for village extension

On 21 September 2020, I made a written complaint to the Sunshine Coast Council that the retaining wall, that supports the filled land on which the new units were built, was not structurally sound and fit for purpose. The scheme operators knowingly failed to ensure that the wall was constructed in accordance with the approved plans, and failed to comply with relevant essential conditions of approval of the operational works; they failed to ensure that the construction was properly supervised and certified by a geotechnical engineer.

As a consequence, the retaining wall has failed, causing major damage to the units, making them unsafe to live in. In addition, the scheme operators failed to ensure that the design of a safety fence on top of the wall was fit for purpose and the fence properly constructed, making it useless as a safety fence.

Council has commenced an investigation of the non-compliance with approval conditions; they have rejected the engineer’s report for the retaining wall, belatedly submitted by the Plaintiff in his role as developer, because it does not comply with the conditions of approval.

For details of how the scheme operators defrauded an elderly couple who bought one of the new units, refer to FINANCIAL INVESTIGATION -> DETAILS OF FINDINGS -> 18. Defrauded residents who bought new unit - structure unfit for purpose, and unconscionable exit terms.

5.1 Conditions of approval

5.1.1 In their role as developers of the extension to the laurel springs Retirement Village, the scheme operators were required to apply to Sunshine Coast Council for two approvals before commencing any building work on the actual units:

  • Material change of Use (MCU)
  • Operational Works (OPW)

5.1.2 According to the Approved Decision Notice for MCU17 2092:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 01

18.1.3 According to the Approved Decision Notice for OPW:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 02

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5.2 Approved retaining wall design

5.2.1 As shown in the Bulk Earthworks Plan, contained in the Approved Plans - Part 1 of 2 - OPW18 0249, there is up to 4m of fill under the new units:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 03

5.2.2 As shown in the Retaining Wall Plans, contained in the Approved Plans - Part 1 of 2 - OPW18 0249, there is a concrete block retaining wall, on a massive concrete foundation slab, supporting the fill:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 03

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5.3 Constructed retaining wall

5.3.1 The constructed retaining wall is a low-cost concrete-sleeper retaining wall, as photographed in May 2019 before it failed:

 

 

Evidence Document D6.18 - 12

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5.4 Certification of design of failed retaining wall

5.4.1 This is the Form 15 compliance certificate for the design of the failed concrete-sleeper retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 04

5.4.2 The important points to note about the design certification are:

  • designer is not a geotechnical engineer- refer to approval condition 41 in 18.1.3 above
  • lot and plan information is missing
  • building certifier reference number is missing
  • maximum height of designed wall is 3.8m - wall is actually 4.1m high
  • excludes global stability of soil

5.4.3 According to design note 3 on drawing PEALAU-01, the compaction of the fill must be supervised by an engineer:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 04

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5.5 Certification of inspection of failed retaining wall

5.5.1 This is the Form 16 inspection certificate for the failed concrete-sleeper retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 05

5.5.2 The important points to note about the inspection certification are:

  • certifier is not a geotechnical engineer- refer to approval condition 41 in 18.1.3 above
  • lot and plan information is missing but unit number is given - the entire wall should be certified, not the section for one unit
  • building certifier reference number is missing
  • development approval number is missing
  • footing depths confirmed by review of photographs
  • no certification of compaction of soil by the engineer - refer to 18.4.3 above
  • date of certification is 16 April 2019, but certificate not provided to Council until November 2020 following my complaint
  • certificate rejected by Council because of non-compliance

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5.6 Failure of retaining wall

5.6.1 In my email to Council on 9 October 2020, I said:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 10

5.6.2 Here is the failed concrete-sleeper retaining wall:

 

 

Evidence Document D6.18 - 07

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5.7 Unsafe safety fence on top of wall

5.7.1 In my email to Council on 9 October 2020, I said:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 10

5.7.2 Here are some of the construction faults in the safety fence on top of the wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 08

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5.8 Damage to units on top of the wall

5.8.1 Here is some of the damage to the units built on top of the wall:

 

 

Evidence Document D6.18 - 09

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5.9 Response of scheme operators

5.9.1 on 21 September 2020, more than six months after the residents complained about damage to their unit, the scheme operators admitted that there was a problem, but significantly understated the significance of the failure of the retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 06

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5.10 Council action on complaint

5.10.1 On 27 November 2020, Sunshine Coast Council issued a Show Cause Notice to Lusping Pty Ltd as the developers of the extension. Council raised numerous failures to comply with conditions of approval, including the ones of direct relevance to the failure of the retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 13

5.10.2 On 18 November 2020, Council provided me with the following update on their action in relation to the non-compliance with the conditions of approval for the extension of the Laurel Springs Retirement Village:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 10

5.10.3 On 13 January 2021,Council had not received a satisfactory response to their Show Cause Notice, and had still not received the geotechnical certification for the retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 10

5.10.4 On 29 January 2021,Council had received a satisfactory response to their Show Cause Notice, but had still not received the geotechnical certification for the retaining wall:

Evidence Document D6.18 - 10

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