Icon tells residents they can move back into building

The builder of the embattled Opal Tower is starting to move residents back in, despite not having the findings of the government’s specialist report.

Icon notified residents of the Sydney tower on Thursday night that they could start moving back into unaffected units on Saturday, after days of leaving them in the lurch with no information.

But a report from engineers sent in by the NSW government is yet to be finalised, leaving already distressed residents further worried about the building’s safety ahead of an impeding move this weekend.

Many still do not know if their units are those requiring remedial work that will take up to six weeks, forcing them to stay in their temporary accommodation well past their initial Christmas Eve evacuation date.

Icon said in a statement issued to residents at their hotels that as previously advised by NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, any decision to reoccupy the building was one for the owners, residents and the builder.

“While we would welcome the department’s independent engineers advice, the confirmation regarding the suitability of the structure lives with the engineers engaged to undertake that work,” they said.

“We currently have confirmation from the design engineer WSP and third-party engineer Rincovich Partners that the building is safe to occupy following completion of the stabilisation works, which are currently due for completion Friday evening.”

A spokesman for Mr Roberts said the report would probably not be released today as the government needed time to digest its findings.

Residents said the lack of information had been “heartbreaking”, after not receiving updates for five days.

Developer Ecove was the first to issue a statement this week, on Wednesday attempting to prompt Icon into revealing the “cause and remediation of the issue”.

Icon did not provide any information on that in its statement to residents. What caused the building to crack, forcing the evacuation of the 36-storey building, still has not been spelled out.

The builder said a list of apartments that required no remedial work had been forwarded to the body corporate and these apartments could be reoccupied.

“Dates for reoccupation of the remaining apartments requiring remedial works will follow once design confirmation is provided by WSP,” they said.

“We qualify the above statement with the fact we are awaiting Cardno’s (Body Corporate’s Engineer) advice regarding relocating residents back into the building. Ideally, we would like agreement between all parties.”

But residents are still unhappy, with many breaking their leases and moving out well before any decisions were made because of the uncertainly surrounding the troubled building.

“Only safe place to live is as far away from city centre as possible and in the countryside!” said one.

Another told AAP, “Of course it’s not safe since we haven’t received any clearance from the government.”

Others have tried to break their leases and been told they cannot.

“My family members are paranoid with the idea of living in an apartment which is portrayed in the media so badly,” wrote one man on the residents’ Facebook page.

“As much as I believe the building could be safe or what not, it has put me in a dilemma regarding whether I should continue leasing or break my lease regardless of outcome.

“I still have 8 months of lease to go and am not sure what to do if I want to break my lease.”

Residents requiring ongoing accommodation have had their stays at their hotels extended.

Some units only need minor remedial works where inspection holes were made and won’t be able to return for a week.

Icon is continuing to pay for accommodation and residents’ living expenses until Sunday.

Those requiring longer remedial works are being contacted by Icon.

The government’s engineering experts Mark Hoffman and John Carter are expected to address rectification plans and the safety of the building.

Last week the pair said they’d found no evidence of issues with the foundations of the building.

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