Tenants of Central Pier in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct have launched legal action in the federal court against Development Victoria.
A statement of claim on behalf of eight businesses against Development Victoria was lodged in the federal court on Monday, according to multiple media reports.
It came after Central Pier was suddenly closed in late August after a team of engineers deemed it unsafe.
The pier has remained closed since August and will until January at the earliest, Development Victoria has said. In September, a prominent developer complained of not receiving enough support and transparency from the government body.
The tenants allege the government body knew in June 2015 the pier was deteriorating at a faster rate despite the repairs being carried out, according to The Herald Sun.
Furthermore, Development Victoria is being accused of “misleading and deceptive” conduct for leading tenants to believe the repairs being undertaken would enable them to continue operating until their lease ended in 2026, The Age reported.
“There are now serious questions as to whether Development Victoria’s repair works over the past two years have actually made things worse,” a spokesperson for the Central Pier tenants said in a statement.
The tenants also allege Development Victoria has not been upfront on when they can return to work.
“Development Victoria has completely mishandled and mismanaged this situation,” the spokesperson said.
“Its refusal to provide information has placed additional stress on all of the staff who are already under extreme pressure and worried about how they are going to pay their mortgages, feed their families and cover the bills.
“We are now coming into the busiest event season of the year with Spring Carnival, Christmas and New Year and our heritage sheds and maritime waterfront is out of action. It’s an absolute embarrassment for Melbourne.”
Multiple reports claim businesses are pursuing substantial costs from the government body, which could be in excess of $100 million.
In September, Development Victoria said a decision on the future of Central Pier will be made after a full assessment by divers and marine engineers.
The government body believes it has acted in good faith and in accordance with the terms of the Central Pier lease, and said last month that any legal action will be defended.