A new year brings new pressures for landowners of high-rise residential buildings which contain ACM and other unsafe cladding.
The government's 26th Building Safety Programme publication, dated January 16, 2020, confirms a total of 315 buildings have yet to remove ACM cladding, and a further 24 buildings have yet to confirm if ACM cladding is present. Of those 315 buildings, 13 social sector and 68 private sector buildings have a remediation plan in place, but works have not yet started. A further 75 private sector buildings have confirmed an intent to remediate and are developing plans.
Not only is there a lot of work to do to remove ACM cladding from all of these buildings, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed on January 21, 2020 that the government would soon be "naming and shaming" landowners of qualifying buildings who had not removed ACM cladding. A new Building Safety Regulator was also announced, with the Local Government Association's building safety spokesman Lord Porter saying "the height of a building does not provide any indication about the risk to its safety, as has been proven by recent dangerous fires in buildings below 18 metres" and "ACM is not the only cladding system that poses a risk to residents and the government needs to come forward urgently with funding to support the removal of HPL (High Pressure Laminate) and other dangerous systems".
Even more recently, Sky News reported on January 26, 2020 that the "deputy chief fire officer of West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, has written to people living in 13 tower blocks in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield warning that he could close the entire building, or parts of it unless they have firm plans to remove combustible cladding". Sky news also confirmed that one of those buildings, namely St George's Building in central Leeds has HPL cladding and was "one of the tower blocks to receive Mr Walton's ultimatum".
2020 appears to be the year in which all landowners of high-rise residential buildings will have to decide how they are going to remove ACM cladding, how they are going to pay for these costs, and whether they are going to pass all or some of those costs onto residents. We also foresee other types of cladding being deemed unsafe which require replacing, with landowners of other types of residential buildings and perhaps some commercial buildings (e.g. hotels) being caught by these bans too.
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