Housing secretary Michael Gove is proposing to block developers from winning further planning permissions if they don’t pay to fix unsafe cladding on existing schemes
The proposed change in the law was included in a long list of measures outlined by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to force the industry to fund the removal of cladding and protect leaseholders from ‘exorbitant costs’.
Earlier this year, Gove had told companies they should fund and undertake all necessary remediation on problematic buildings over 11m which they had a role in developing. The government said that those developers that did not act responsibly would face ‘commercial and financial consequences’.
Now his department has spelt out how it plans to legally enforce his demands through a series of amendments to the Building Safety Bill.
The DLUHC said: ‘For those in industry not doing the right thing, the government will be able to block planning permission and building control sign-off on developments, effectively preventing them from building and selling new homes.’
Other measures include giving the court new powers to stop developers ‘using shadowy shell companies’ which make them difficult to trace or identify who they are run by, so they can avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
There are also proposals to impose Cost Contribution Orders on manufacturers who have been successfully prosecuted under construction products regulations. These orders will require them to pay their fair share on buildings requiring remediation.
The department added: ‘It is wrong that, until now, a manufacturer could be found guilty of misconduct but could not be charged to fix the problems they caused in selling defective products.’
Other amendments to the Building Safety Bill will allow building owners and landlords to take legal action against manufacturers who used defective products on a home that has since been found unfit for habitation. The power will stretch back 30 years and allow recovery where costs have already been paid out.
Gove said that building freehold owners that are not linked to the developer but that can afford to pay in full will also be required to put up the money to do so.Those not willing to play their part they must face consequences
He added that in the ‘small number of cases’ where building owners do not have the resources to pay, leaseholders will be protected by a cap.
The cap will be set at similar levels to Florrie’s Law, which has applied to some repairs to social housing since 2014: £10,000 for homes outside London and £15,000 for homes in the capital. This will limit how much leaseholders in this scenario can be asked to pay for non-cladding costs, including waking watch charges.
Any money paid by leaseholders over the past five years will count towards the cap, ‘meaning some leaseholders will pay nothing more’.
Speaking about the proposed law changes, Gove said: ‘It is time to bring this scandal to an end, protect leaseholders and see the industry work together to deliver a solution.
‘These measures will stop building owners passing all costs on to leaseholders and make sure any repairs are proportionate and necessary for their safety. All industry must play a part instead of continuing to profit whilst hardworking families struggle.’
He added: ‘We cannot allow those who do not take building safety seriously to build homes in the future, and for those not willing to play their part they must face consequences.
‘We will take action to keep homes safe and to protect existing leaseholders from paying the price for bad development.’
Source: Architects Journal