The Government has conceded that deadlines to ensure all remediation work on the removal of dangerous cladding on buildings by June will not be met.
Unfortunately, the recent lockdown has meant that many remediation projects were forced to halt, with many construction sites likely to have struggled regardless of the lockdown.
James Brokenshire, Communities Secretary at the time, promised that all aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding would be removed from the relevant buildings by the end of June 2020.
The written statement issued last year was explicit in the final deadline which would be met unless ‘exceptional circumstances’ prevented progress. The threat of ‘enforcement action’ to private owners will also be delayed given the significant amount of time lost to the building sector whilst in lockdown.
The government’s ‘Building Safety Programme: Monthly Data‘ released at the end of April found that only 56 of the 307 publicly owned buildings in need of remediation had been completed.
The 154 buildings in the social sector that were identified with ACM cladding and unable to meet the deadline in March were still unlikely to meet the deadline by the end of April.
82 of these social residential buildings are yet to be remediated and 9 have only just initiated a remediation plan.
The 208 private residential properties with dangerous cladding unable to meet June’s deadline was actually one more property than those identified in March.
Fortunately, student accommodation had improved over the course of a month, despite lockdown, with the 56 ACM clad student buildings unable to meet June’s deadline reduced to 54 in April.
The news will be grim reading for the owners of a suspected 500,000 unsaleable homes, who are looking for immediate action. The analysis of apartment buildings by The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), found that the number of apartment blocks that had previously passed building control, are now housing more than 500,000 people.
A statement from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, said:
“Building owners are responsible for making their buildings safe. Remediation work takes time and must be done safely and properly. How long it takes varies according to the individual building, depending on the type and extent of the work required.
“Residents’ safety remains our priority. This government is bringing forward the biggest change in building safety in a generation, backed by our unprecedented £1.6bn fund to ensure unsafe cladding, where it remains in place, is removed as soon as possible.
“We have also issued guidance to ensure that this essential building safety work continues during the pandemic and have secured pledges from 26 local leaders and five metro mayors to ensure this vital remediation work continues, where it is safe to do so.”
Nigel Glen, Chief Executive Officer, The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) said:
“The Grenfell tragedy highlighted the dangers of ACM cladding, but it has also revealed a much wider building safety crisis which could affect over half a million people. These buildings are being fixed by building owners and managing agents as quickly as possible but, without Government support, the process could take decades and leave leaseholders with life-changing bills on top of the anxiety that has already been caused.”