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Minister delivers major announcement on building safety in Wales

07 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Climate Change Minister Julie James has provided a major update on building safety in Wales. Picture: Welsh Government.

Climate Change Minister Julie James has today, October 7, provided a major update on building safety in Wales following meetings with developers.

The Minister provided a number of key updates which included progress on the Welsh Government’s Developers Pact – a pledge designed for companies to confirm their intention to address fire safety issues in buildings of 11 metres and over in height that they have developed over the last 30 years.

The Minister confirmed major developers have signed up to the pact and, in some cases, remediation work has started.

Developers who have signed the pact are Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Lovell, McCarthy and Stone, Countryside, Vistry, Redrow, Crest Nicholson and Barratt.

The Minister said: “I have always made it clear that I do not expect leaseholders to bear the cost of repairing fire safety issues that are not of their making and that I expect developers to step up to their responsibilities.

“I am very pleased that following our roundtable meeting in July a number of major developers have acknowledged their responsibility by signing up to the Welsh Government’s Developers Pact. 

“I met with these developers yesterday to confirm next steps, and their plans and timescales for remediation. 

“I wish to commend them for their engagement to date and look forward to a productive relationship in the future. 

“In some cases, developers have started their remediation works, and are making the repairs necessary and I look forward to this work continuing at pace.”

Survey updates

The Minister also provided key updates on vital survey work carried out through the Welsh Building Safety Fund, reforming the current legislative system, the Leaseholder Support Scheme and on reimbursing those who have already paid for survey work.  

The Minister added: “I have been made aware that in a number of cases, survey work was undertaken prior to the launch of the Welsh Building Safety Fund, funded by residents, building owners or managing agents. 

“Where this has happened, and subject to certain eligibility criteria being met, I can confirm that surveys costs will be reimbursed by Welsh Government. 

“While it is right that developers take responsibility for defects that they are accountable, building owners and Managing Agents also have accountabilities when it comes to ensuring the safety of buildings and it is important that effective maintenance programmes are in place.  

“I would encourage all residents to assure themselves that maintenance on their buildings is being carried out in accordance with their lease agreements.”

‘Significant gaps’ warning

The Welsh Liberal Democrats welcomed the progress announced, but warned significant gaps remain, with three major developers yet to reply.

The announcement follows a lengthy campaign by leaseholders in the five years since the Grenfell Tower Disaster.

“I am of course glad to finally see some movement from Labour on this issue,” Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said. 

“I particularly welcome that the Welsh Government has listened to the Liberal Democrats calls to name and shame the property developers for not agreeing to carry out remediation work and to reimburse survey work carried out by leaseholders which is something we had really been pushing for.

“However there remain a number of significant gaps in the announcement today. Due to the lack of legislation in Wales, those homeowners in properties that were built by property developers refusing to engage with the process are effectively being asked to sit tight and wait after five years of already doing just that. 

“As an interim measure, we would like to see the three developers refusing to engage barred from any work contracted by the Welsh Government or local authorities in Wales.

“We also don’t have an answer to what will be done about all the money victims have had to spend on waking watches, extortionate service charges and in many cases court cases against developers over the last few years while the Welsh Government failed to act. We want to see this reimbursed.

“Overall communication from the Welsh Government to the victims continues to be extremely poor. Victims and managing agents have spent the morning finding out by drip feed from the Welsh Government press releases rather than the Welsh Government engaging with them directly.

“This has been a feature throughout the ordeal, with the Welsh Government not engaging directly with victims or including them in discussions about resolutions.

“I and the Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to securing the answers to the questions left by today’s announcement and will keep holding Labour to account to ensure victims of this scandal receive the justice they deserve.”

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