The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, has given developers a deadline of early March to agree a fully funded plan of action including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings.
In a letter to the “Residential Property Developer Industry” the minister warned that he would “take all steps necessary to make this happen, including restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers and the pursuit of companies through the courts”.
He added that if industry failed to take responsibility, the government would “if necessary” impose a solution in law.
In the letter, the Secretary of State said: “Our home should be a source of security and pride. For too many of the people living in properties your industry has built in recent years, their home has become a source of misery. This must change.
“It is neither fair nor decent that innocent leaseholders, many of whom have worked hard and made sacrifices to get a foot on the housing ladder, should be landed with bills they cannot afford to fix problems they did not cause.”
The minister argued that the Government had accepted its share of responsibility and made significant financial provision through its ACM remediation programme and the Building Safety Fund. “Some developers have already done the right thing and funded remedial works and I commend them for those actions. But too many others have failed to live up to their responsibilities.”
In the letter, the Secretary of State asks companies to agree to:
- make financial contributions to a dedicated fund to cover the full outstanding cost to remediate unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion.
- fund and undertake all necessary remediation of buildings over 11 metres that they have played a role in developing.
- provide comprehensive information on all buildings over 11 meters which have historic safety defects and which they have played a part in constructing in the last 30 years.
The minister insisted that “developers must take forward all necessary remediation work at pace - prioritising those with greatest risks first and in all cases finding the quickest and most proportionate solution to make buildings safe”.
He called on industry to enter “an open and transparent dialogue” with the Government to hear their proposals, starting with a roundtable with the largest residential developers and trade bodies.
The Government is to invite leaseholders and those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy to the table to discuss solutions at appropriate junctures “to ensure discussions are not taking place behind closed doors”.
The Government will also announce a decision on which companies are in scope for funding contributions following discussions with industry but expect it to cover all firms with annual profits from housebuilding at or above £10m.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: “We’re pleased to see the government taking these steps to fix the cladding crisis, which has dragged on for far too long.
“This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire and no one should still be living in a building with dangerous cladding. Every Londoner must be safe – and feel safe – in their home, yet many are living in a nightmarish limbo while arguments rage over how remediation works will be paid for.
“Boroughs agree that the residential property industry should make a greater financial contribution towards the cost of removing unsafe materials from London’s buildings. Ministers now need to keep up the momentum and make sure the industry delivers on these fair and much-needed commitments for improving building safety, as well as working with councils on delivering stronger local powers for enforcing fire safety measures.”