Remediation contract far from ready as talks continue

Developers and the government have so far failed to agree the terms of a new remediation contract, CN understands.

The legally binding plan for developers to commit to remediating unsafe buildings is not at a point “where developers can reasonably sign it”, one of the key parties in the discussions said.

Forty-nine developers have so far signed up to the pledge to remediate all of the fire defects in buildings of more than 11 metres in height, in instances in which they were the client.

Housing secretary Greg Clark last month penned plans to buff up the remediation pledges by making them “legally binding”, giving developers four weeks to raise any objections to the contract that he drew up. The four-week period came to an end on Wednesday.

However, a spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the key body representing developers in the two-way discussions with the government, told CN that there are “several areas of discussion ongoing” over the contract.

“Lots of it is details but the aim is to get the document into a form where developers can reasonably sign it,” they added. The HBF is currently pushing to ensure the contract “better reflects those principles [outlined in the pledge]”, the spokesperson added.

Earlier this month, the HBF warned that the contract, in its current format, would “provide government with the opportunity to rewrite the agreement at any time once builders have signed”, and argued that builders might be pushed to pay for work outside the safety-critical remit, and instead fund the general “betterment” of buildings.

The Construction Products Association is not involved in the discussions, CN understands, after it said there were “too many unknowns” to sign the pledge itself, back in April.

Former housing secretary Michael Gove said roughly £3bn would be needed from developers to pay for additional cladding remediation. Developers who have signed up to the pledge have also agreed to return the funds they claimed from the £5.1bn Building Safety Fund, and to cease claiming from it.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the industry must commit to signing the remediation contracts for the pledge to be “credible”.

“We are working at pace with developers to refine the terms and expect companies to sign the final contract soon. We will continue to do whatever it takes to make sure companies do the right thing,” they added.

DLUHC warned earlier this year that firms that did not take action to remediate the buildings they were contracted on faced being banned from selling homes.

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