Welcome to this week’s building safety bulletin. This page outlines some of the significant news and changes affecting developers, leaseholders, contractors, housing providers, and anyone else interested in the UK’s building safety crisis.
1. Developer remediation contract
There have been no new signatories to the government’s developer remediation contract. So far, 46 developers have committed themselves to carrying out remedial works on life-critical fire safety defects with buildings they have developed or refurbished since 1993. There are four developers that have not signed the contract – Abbey Developments, Avant, Dandara and Rydon Homes. According to Michael Gove, none of the four will not be eligible to join the government’s Responsible Actors Scheme (RAS). It is now six weeks since the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ deadline and, as more time passes, it looks increasingly unlikely that we will see any more signatories.
2. Gove writes to Kingspan, Saint-Gobain and Arconic investors
Michael Gove has written to investors in the cladding manufacturers Kingspan, Arconic and Saint-Gobain, calling on them to put pressure on the companies to commit to a ‘comprehensive financial package’ for fire safety remediation work. If the manufacturers do not arrange a settlement with the government, Gove has warned that they will face ‘severe consequences’. The asset managers and investors that the Secretary of State has written to include Blackrock, Vanguard, and Fidelity Management and Research.
3. Independent Review of Construction Product Testing
Last week, Michael Gove has announced that the Independent Review of Construction Product Testing, put together by Paul Morrell OBE and Anneliese Day KC, has been published. The report was initially commissioned in April 2021 to assess the regulatory regime governing the safety of construction products, following the Grenfell Tower disaster of June 2017. The 174-page report identifies six major systemic problems with the existing regime, related to its coverage, purpose, standardisation, complexity, capacity and enforcement capabilities. Advice is also offered to the National Regulator for Construction Products and the Building Safety Regulator. DLUHC is currently said to be ‘carefully reviewing’ the report.
The full review can be accessed here.
4. Amendment in the Lords
Yesterday, the Earl of Lytton, an experienced chartered surveyor who sits in the House of Lords, put forward an amendment (Amendment 274) to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which intends to ‘protect all leaseholders—indeed, all owners of buildings of whatever height and tenure—from the costs of remediating buildings that are unsafe in their construction and the interim safety measures in circumstances where they are entirely innocent of the causes of these defects’.
Speaking yesterday in Parliament, the Earl of Lytton said the government’s Building Safety Act marks a ‘significant step’ but argued that there are many so-called non-qualifying leaseholders according to the Act’s definitions that are not protected against costs for fixing cladding and non-cladding related defects.
Yesterday’s debate on the amendment can be read here.