24 February, 2022
In January Michael Gove gave a fully funded plan of action to allegedly 'fix' the cladding crisis. Gove warned the residential property developer industry that he will take all steps necessary to make it happen, including imposing legal solutions, to make developers pay. The Government also announced further measures to protect leaseholders and 'restore common sense' to building safety regulations.
The plan gives the industry until early March to agree to a fully funded plan of action including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre tall buildings, estimated to be at a cost of £4 billion. Gove asks the companies to make financial contributions to remediate unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre tall buildings, fund and undertake all necessary remediation of buildings over 11 meters which they have helped develop, and provide comprehensive information on all buildings over 11 meters which have historical safety defects which they have played a part in developing in the last 30 years. Further, developers must ensure that they are proactive in remediation and prioritise those at greater risk to ensure that buildings are safe.
Gove has threatened to withdraw government funding, future procurements, and planning powers to restrict developers if they fail to agree to cooperate. Alongside this, he wants to ensure that common sense is restored to the industry and to put an end to buildings being declared unsafe when they are not.
Many will agree it is time for the Government to make progress in solving the crisis which is having a damaging effect mentally and financially on leaseholders. Leaseholders have highlighted the impact and loss of control felt over their own lives caused by the pressure and financial burden that has been placed on them.
If Gove's plan is successul, this will come as a huge relief for leaseholders of flats in buildings higher than 11 meters in England who could otherwise be facing substantial bills to pay for dangerous cladding to be removed from their building.
Gove is the fourth housing secretary to attempt to fix the cladding crisis. The difference with Gove's plan is that it scraps the previously proposed loan scheme. Instead, developers have until March to sign up to the deal that will make them pay annual contributions to cover the estimated £4 billion costs.
A large problem with the new plan however is that other costs are not covered. Residents have had to pay for higher insurance premiums, waking watch and fire alarms, for example. The plan will not cover 'non-cladding' defects. Therefore, critics say that the plan will only make buildings half safe, and this is not good enough - if the Government are going to attempt to resolve building safety, they should tackle it in its entirety.
As March approaches, we will get a clearer understanding as to whether Gove's plan will be accepted by developers or if it is not in fact fourth time lucky.
For more information contact Rebecca Davidson in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772220143. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
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