Sydney residents have been dealt a blow as the reopening of a popular beach has been delayed for the second time after defective work was detected.
Shark Beach, at Nielsen Park in Sydney’s east, has been closed for rectification work since early 2022, after its 100-year-old seawall was damaged in a 2016 storm.
The reconstruction was originally meant to be completed by December 2022, but the project has been plagued by problems and complications delayed the work with a new reopening date set for April or May of this year.
But a statement on the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) revealed the work will now not be completed until at least June, after major defects were found in the concrete piles designed to support a rebuilt seawall.
“From June to October 2023, the contractor constructed 217 steel-reinforced concrete piles across the foreshore, which will hold the capping beam and bleachers in place and support the seawall structure,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately, during our quality assurance inspections, we found that some of these piles had insufficient concrete coverage and were therefore defective.”
“If left in place this would reduce the life span of the pile and potentially the life span of the entire seawall structure.”
A spokesperson for NPWS told the ABC the full extent of the problem was not known until December.
Contractor Cherrie Civil Engineering is the second contractor to work on the project after original contractor Delaney Civil’s contract was terminated in January 2023.
The decision to change contractor hasn’t been disclosed, with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment citing “commercial-in-confidence”.
Previous delays at the site were due to the unexpected discovery of material containing asbestos and continued wet weather.
The statement from NPWS said the June 2024 reopening date excluded “any inclement weather or latent site conditions”.
Local member for Vaucluse, Kellie Sloane, slammed the latest delay.
“The community and visitors alike are incredibly disappointed by yet another delay to one of Sydney’s favourite beaches,” she said.
“Locals are shaking their heads because this is not the first time we have seen a construction delay — it has been two summers now and we want to make sure it is not a third.”
Ms Sloane told the ABC she was meeting with NSW environment minister Penny Sharpe this week to find out what had gone wrong.
“I sent a letter to the minister asking for a briefing and demanding some transparency.”
“Locals feel like they have not been consulted, they want to understand what is happening and they want to know the construction company is being held accountable.”
NPWS said the current contractor had absorbed the cost of redoing the concrete piles, and that the work had now been done.
“The contractor has now completed all necessary rectification work, at their own cost, including reboring of piles and sleeving of other piles with grouted steel sleeves.”
“This rectification work has had a significant impact on the construction program.”