Developers boycott Gove plan to meet bill to address cladding crisis

Developers have slammed the government’s latest plan to tackle the cladding crisis, which could cost them a bill of up to £4bn.

Housing secretary Michael Gove is seeking homebuilders to pay for fire safety issues at tens of thousands of properties in England. Failure to do so risks the prospect of legal action for developers.

But builders claim they were unfairly singled out and argue that others, including building safety regulators and cladding manufacturers, are also to blame.

“You can’t keep putting all the blame on the developer,” said Matthew Platt, chief executive of homebuilder Redrow. “There is still too much ambiguity and we want the government to clarify what is going on,” he added.

Ministers have struggled to contain the building safety crisis that has ballooned since then Fire at Grenfell Tower in west London in 2017, 72 of whom died. Following the tragedy, concerns were raised that hundreds of towers were clad with the same combustible material as Grenfell.

The crisis widened in January 2020, when the government recommended a fire risk assessment for any multi-storey, multi-family residential building, including more than 800,000 leaseholders.

Lenders are refusing to issue mortgages on potentially unsafe properties, and tens of thousands of people are effectively trapped in homes they can’t sell due to a lack of fire safety experts to sign apartments. Many face the cost of interim fire safety measures in the tens of thousands of pounds.

Robert Jenrick, who was housing secretary before Gove, has allocated £5bn to rehabilitate more than 18m buildings and suggested that renters of properties between 11m and 18m in height could apply for loans , to pay for any necessary repairs to the unsafe apartment. But Gove made it clear that lessees should not be responsible for the cost of fixing fire safety issues.

The Federation of Home Builders, which represents developers, said: “Tenants should not be paying for the restoration of the building and previously proposed loan schemes have proven to be impractical.”

But developers have set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to restore properties, and the government will raise a further £2bn over the next 10 years through targeted taxes on the industry.

“While home builders are committed to playing their part, there are many other organisations involved in the construction of affected buildings, including housing associations and local authorities,” HBF said.

“In addition to developers and the government, other parties should also be involved in the cost of remediation, especially material manufacturers who design, test and sell materials purchased in good faith by developers that later prove unfit for purpose,” it added.

Lessees have welcomed the Gove plan, due to be announced on Monday, with caution.

“It would be great if there was more funding for buildings between $11 million and $18 million, but there are still people who can’t get any funding: buildings under $11 million and all other non-clad fire safety issues that don’t have funding, “The campaign said to end our cladding scandal.

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