The UK government has told property developers to pay to remove combustible cladding from residential buildings, under revised plans unveiled in Parliament yesterday.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove wants the industry to provide an estimated £4 billion to cover the expense of removing the dangerous cladding from residential buildings 11-18 metres tall. He said leaseholders are sharing a “desperately unfair” burden and is clear that the industry should bear the costs.

This marks a U-turn on heavily criticised plans that were announced early last year, which would have required flat owners with unsafe cladding to access a low-interest loan scheme to help pay the removal costs. The government would also have contributed billions.

Gove’s statement in the House of Commons yesterday emphasises:

  • that leaseholders in buildings over 11-metres high will not have to pay to remove dangerous cladding, instead amendments to the Building Safety Bill will be tabled to help protect them. Developers will be expected to pay, and the government reserves the right to legislate if they don’t.
  • He also confirmed that the government’s guidance affecting medium-rise buildings is being withdrawn because it is being interpreted in too cautious a way, as medium-rise buildings are generally safe.
  • He also stated that the next phase of the building safety fund will open early this year.

The new proposal comes more than four years following the Grenfell Tower fire. and Gove has demanded developers and other firms involved provide a “fully-funded plan of action” to fix their situations by “early March”.

An official report has blamed highly combustible cladding fixed to the 24-storey Grenfell block as the “principal reason” the fire spread, while a public inquiry into the tragedy remains ongoing.

Yesterday, the minister, who took over the housing brief last September, warned he was “prepared to take all steps necessary” to fix the “broken system”.

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