Auckland City Hospital, TVNZ's headquarters, the high-rise waterfront PwC Tower and more than 5000 city apartments are clad in a combustible aluminium composite panel with a flammable polyethylene core but an Auckland Council's building boss says that does not mean the buildings are unsafe.

Council building consents general manager Ian McCormick said although his organisation had released the list of 116 buildings with ACP cladding, all had other fire protection measures which meant they were not dangerous.

Of the 116 ACP-clad buildings, 25 have Grenfell-like polyethylene cores. A fire last year at Grenfell Tower in London killed more than 70 people.

The Spencer on Byron Hotel in Takapuna is on an Auckland Council list of 116 ACP-clad buildings.
The Spencer on Byron Hotel in Takapuna is on an Auckland Council list of 116 ACP-clad buildings.

Asked about a number of Grafton hospital buildings which appeared on the list, he said: "We looked at all the buildings and consider the types of occupants and number of occupants and a whole lot of other factors to determine if they are safe and we decided that as a result, those buildings are not dangerous."

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A TVNZ spokesperson said the business was aware the Auckland headquarters had the panel but the council's advice was "that our building is safe and our fire protection systems are fit for purpose".

Less than 1 per cent of the exterior cladding surface had ACP, limited to the exterior cladding of the central lift tower, she said.

"We've engaged consultant experts to provide us independent advice and we'll take remedial action if that's what's recommended," the spokesperson said.

McCormick said the council examined consent data to identify the building claddings "and in some cases we asked the suppliers and distributors but some are no longer around so we assumed it was ACP PE. We're aware the major distributors and suppliers have not been supplying for this purpose for many years," he said of building claddings. "That product is used for things like signs."

TVNZ says the council's advice is that its building is safe and fire protection systems are fit for purpose. Photo / Doug Sherring
TVNZ says the council's advice is that its building is safe and fire protection systems are fit for purpose. Photo / Doug Sherring

McCormick said council building consents staff had been working with the corporate property team that managed the Henderson Civic Building.

"All Auckland Council buildings were independently assessed by the Corporate Property team and these were also identified during the ACP investigation."

The council was not moving to change the cladding.

"As we've previously said, no buildings that contain ACP cladding materials are dangerous," he said.

"This building only has a small amount of the cladding. ACP PE cladding appears on the top section of facade on the northern building, and the soffit on the southern building. These are small decorative pieces on the outside of the building – in the form of panelled strips underneath the eaves."

A spokesperson for NZX-listed landlord Precinct Properties which owns the PwC tower said: "Safety of our community and optimal performance of our buildings is paramount to Precinct Properties. We initiated a cladding audit post-Grenfell which ascertained the presence of PE core ACP on 188 Quay St."

Precinct then engaged facade and fire engineers to review the cladding and fire safety systems.

"Their reports confirmed a very low level of risk due to the significant levels of fire prevention and safety systems installed, the dual fire escapes available on each floor and the low level of risk for an external source of ignition," she said.

A spokesperson for the University of Auckland said it knew about the cladding.

"Following the Grenfell Tower fire last year, our Property Services team conducted a review of all our buildings and found that the only building with significant use of the panel was the Owen Glenn," the spokesperson said.

"The panels form part of the Fisher and Paykel lecture theatres' eternal cladding as well as the main building's internal atrium where they clad some foyer space and the exterior of the life shaft.

"However, the complex has comprehensive fire protection, including sprinklers, smoke detectors, smoke extraction, and fire curtains. It also has multiple exits and of course is not used for accommodation. The fire protection system complies with fire code and regulations.

The university's decision to take no further action was based on its confidence, advised by BECA and supported by Auckland Council, that any risk was mitigated by the fire safety features, the spokesperson said.

"We consider the building is safe and are not considering changing the cladding. We would not have students or any other person in a facility we considered unsafe."

Mark Gosling, chief executive of the Trusts Arena said it was designed with some sections of its roof built using ACP panels.

"Over the last two years we have been working with our stakeholders on a plan to replace the panels because of performance issues unrelated to any risk from fire. The Grenfell disaster and the subsequent information released about the panels in that circumstance prompted us to commission a fire report to analyse any risk in the interim period before the panels are replaced," Gosling said.

The conclusion of the report was that the ACP cladding fitted to parts of the Trusts Arena met the requirements of the Building Code at the time that it was installed and there was currently no requirement to remove or replace it. However, it was recommended that additional measures were put in place, until the cladding was removed.

"Those additional measures included moving a rubbish enclosure which has been done and the remainder relate to staffing of exits and some additional fire extinguishers. Any external vendors are also to be sited away from the building," Gosling said.

"The local fire brigade are aware of our management plan and event schedules. All of the measures have been adopted and are in effect," he said.

"Taking into account the views of the fire report and our existing fire systems, including sprinkler systems, which are robust and compliant, we have no hesitation in continuing to operate business as usual.

"We will of course continue to liaise with our fire engineers and take their direction and guidance on any changes to the environment."

The Spark buildings on Victoria St West have ACP claddings. Photo/Greg Bowker
The Spark buildings on Victoria St West have ACP claddings. Photo/Greg Bowker

Spark said it was aware that its building had been found to have a limited amount of aluminium composite cladding under the exterior awnings of the entrance.

"We have been advised that the building is safe and not dangerous, and have communicated this to all of our staff," the company said.

"The building remains fully compliant with all current fire protection measures including automatic fire sprinklers, smoke detectors and fire control screens to ensure the safety of our people, but as a precautionary measure the landlord will be undertaking a detailed assessment.

Auckland District Health Board chief financial officer Rosalie Percival said there was no safety risk associated with the use of ACP cladding materials in Auckland DHB buildings.

"We take the safety of our buildings extremely seriously and when the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was identified as a major factor in the tragedy, we took immediate steps to review the safety of all Auckland DHB buildings that used similar cladding," Percival said.

"There were three stages to our review; our facilities team carried out their own testing, Auckland Council reviewed our buildings and concluded they are safe, and we commissioned an external review by Beca which confirmed the buildings are safe.

"It is important to understand that the ACP cladding used in Auckland DHB buildings is not the same as the material used in Grenfell Tower. The way our buildings are constructed and the sprinkler systems and other fire safety measures that are in place ensure the buildings are of an acceptable safety standard."

The council said that of the 116 buildings on the list, those listed as ACP PE (the cladding with a polyethylene core, like Grenfell Tower) are:

• Various Auckland Hospital buildings, 2 Park Rd, Grafton;
• Civic Centre administration building, 8 Henderson Valley Rd;
• Oceania & Eastern building, 110 Customs St West, CBD;
• Viaduct Point Apartments, 125 Customs St West;
• The Spencer on Byron hotel and apartments, 9-17 Byron Ave, Takapuna (under repair);
• Shoal Haven Apartments, 130 Anzac St, Takapuna;
• Spark Centre, 167 Victoria St West, CBD;
• PwC Building, 188 Quay St, CBD;
• TVNZ building, 100 Victoria St West;
• The Owen Glenn Building at Auckland University, 12 Grafton Rd;
• Quest Apartment Hotel, 127-137 Hobson St;
• Dynasty Gardens Apartments, 135-137 Vincent St;
• An unnamed building at 14-18 Lovell Court, Rosedale;
• AUT Millennium at 17 Antares Pl, Rosedale;
• Queens Lodge, 176 Broadway, Newmarket;
• An unnamed building at 2 Gillies Ave, Newmarket;
• An unnamed building at 212 Universal Drive, Henderson;
• A building at 2-38 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn;
• Kiwi on Queen, 415-427 Queen St, CBD;
• H47 Apartments, 45-49 Hobson St;
• An unnamed building at 60 Stanley St, Parnell;
• An unnamed building at 64 Apollo Dr, Albany;
• City Garden Apartments, 76-84 Albert St, CBD;
• Waitakere Stadium, 79-85 Central Park Dr, Henderson;
• Nautilus hotel/apartments, 9-15 Tamariki Ave, Orewa (under repair).