$18 Million Lawsuit Filed Over Asbestos Contamination at Greville Wooloowin Development

The Greville Wooloowin development, an ambitious “urban village” project situated in Brisbane’s north, has been thrust into an $18-million legal battle due to a shocking asbestos discovery that has brought construction to a grinding halt. 

The project, led by Dunland Property Pty Ltd, was intended to bring a touch of elegance to the city’s landscape, but now finds itself at the epicentre of a lawsuit against environmental consultants accused of negligence.

Dunland Property Pty Ltd, the owner of the development site at 60 Bridge St Wooloowin, has launched a lawsuit against MACH1 Environmental Pty Ltd and Butler Partners Pty Ltd in the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit alleges that these environmental consultants negligently cleared the contaminated site for construction, leading to costly delays and financial losses.

The legal claim, filed on 14 July 2023, highlights that Dunland relied on assurances from MACH1 Environmental and Butler Partners that the Cedar Woods’ townhouse project, known as Greville Wooloowin, was safe from contamination and suitable for construction.

However, once construction commenced in early 2021, asbestos was discovered in the soil, prompting a complete halt to work.

Greville Wooloowin
Photo Credit: Greville Wooloowin/Facebook

Subsequent investigations conducted in April and May revealed even more asbestos contamination on the site. To rectify the situation, Dunland had to remove a staggering 11,000 cubic meters of soil tainted with asbestos between June and November 2021, incurring significant costs. 

By the time construction could resume, the project’s budget had ballooned from $15.3 million to $24.6 million for the townhouses, which were originally planned to be finished by October 2022. The consequences rippled through the project, forcing Dunland to cancel sales contracts for the terrace homes and incurring substantial financial setbacks. 

The company is now seeking damages totaling $18.2 million, which encompasses increased construction costs, commissions paid to real estate agents for Francis Apartments, sunk marketing costs, and more.

Dunland asserts that the negligence caused the project’s crippling delays, costs, and cancellations.

The claim alleges that Butler Partners provided misleading information in their “contaminated land investigation” report, deeming the site suitable for unrestricted use and suggesting its removal from the state government’s environmental management register. Similarly, MACH1 Environmental’s report stated that “no contamination remains on-site.”

These reports were pivotal in the site’s removal from the environmental management register in October 2019. However, subsequent asbestos discoveries prompted the site’s relisting in June 2021. 

Greville Wooloowin’s development includes 49 medium-density lots, 12 medium-density lots and two high-density apartment blocks, divided into four stages. Whilst the legal battle unfolds, the Greville Wooloowin development remains mired in uncertainty as no defence has been filed and no hearing date set, as of press time. 

Published 7-Aug-2023

Greville Wooloowin, Other Developments That Were Abandoned in 2022 Due to Construction Crisis

In 2022, as Australian developers faced construction challenges including rising costs and labour shortages, the $180-million Greville Wooloowin was put on an indefinite hold, along with several other projects in various areas that have been paused or cancelled.

Launched in 2020, Cedar Woods’ master-planned Greville Wooloowin was set to be the first project of its kind in Wooloowin. Once completed, the project will boast more than 250 terrace homes, apartments, and heritage residences plus an exclusive recreation zone with a pool, and a 4,000 sqm community park. 

Whilst the project proved to be popular with buyers since its launch, the developer, however, had to “indefinitely delay” the project in 2022, to the dismay of buyers.

As to why the project was shelved, the company cited rising construction costs and labour shortages coupled with the southeast Queensland extreme weather event and extended construction timeframes.

Greville Wooloowin, Other Developments That Were Abandoned in 2022 Due to Construction Crisis
Photo credit:  Cedar Woods / cedarwoods.com.au

Cedar Woods offered to refund the deposits and the first choice once the project restarts, which they hoped to be in the second half of 2023. The developer also proposed that both parties agree to a mutual termination of the contract as the date of the resumption of the project could not be ascertained at the time.

Aside from Greville Community, Sirona Urban also cancelled its $165-million luxury tower development despite having sold off the plan more than 50 per cent of its apartments.

The firm blamed labour shortages and rising construction costs which they said had skyrocketed by 30 per cent in the past 10 months.

A $500-million apartment tower project in Surfers Paradise had to be abandoned as well by its Melbourne-based developer Central Equity as they deemed it no longer profitable. 

Several construction companies likewise went into liquidation last year including construction giants Condev and Probuild. Development giant Caydon also went under last 2022 owing $200 million in debt and leaving behind 130 unsold apartment units in Melbourne.

And the list goes on.

According to CoreLogic, Cordell Construction Cost Index (CCCI) for Q3 2022 showed that in the year to September 2022 alone, national residential construction costs increased at a record rate of 11 per cent. It exceeded the 10 per cent rise recorded over the last 12 months to June 2022.

“This is an industry facing tough workload pressures against a backdrop of low labour supply, material shortages, rising interest rates and inflationary pressures,” CoreLogic Research Director Tim Lawless said.

“This new high in the cost of construction flows through to margins, unexpected costs for consumers and potentially lengthy delays to home owners who are waiting on the sidelines, often in rental or short-term accommodation, for the completion or possibly the start of their project.”

Published 14-January-2023