Building experts gear up to tackle medium rise buildings after Gove cladding commitment

Cladding is being removed from St Francis Tower in Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Building experts will be turning their attention to medium-rise buildings after Michael Gove's commitment to fix the problem - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Many more than the 50 applications for re-cladding support on 18m-plus buildings across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex will be looking for help from the Building Safety Fund following a government announcement, an expert says.

Daniel Legg, partner at large property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, welcomed a government commitment to take “every step necessary” to ensure the building industry fixes the problem of dangerous cladding blighting thousands of leaseholders in medium rise blocks of 11m to 18m.

Four and half years after the Grenfell fire exposed the dangers of cladding, housing secretary Michael Gove said that no leaseholder living in a block above 11m tall would have to pay to fix dangerous problems.

Ingleton Wood, which has offices in Colchester and Norwich, said it is working on “several” cladding remediation projects across the three counties as well as London, and has successfully secured millions of pounds of government funding.

This was for 18m-plus buildings eligible for the pre-existing Building Safety Fund, as well as 11m to 18m buildings which were the focus of the government’s latest announcement this week.

On average, each project will cost around £3m, but can range from £1m to £5m depending on its scope and scale, the company said.

How many 11-18m buildings are eligible for the Building Safety Fund will depend on the cladding and insulation used – but it will be a far higher figure than for the 18m-plus buildings, said Mr Legg.

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“One typical project in Ipswich that we’re involved with has multiple blocks affecting hundreds of residents, and the good news is that the original developer has been identified and is willing to fund the work for most of the projects with which we’re involved across the region and in London,” he said.

“In cases where the developer is no longer active or has not yet signalled intent to support, the government’s warning to the ‘industry’ this week clearly aims to change this. Where we have faced this situation, our close collaboration with other third-parties such as residential management companies helps to ensure successful Building Safety Fund applications and project outcomes.”

However, Mr Legg said while there was now “light at the end of the tunnel”, there were many questions which still need to be resolved. 

“The proposed scheme needs to be clarified quickly with more details provided on the mechanisms and how it is going to be administered” he said.

Leaseholders, landlords, developers and residential property management companies all need to work closely together, he added.

Mr Gove said while he was seeking to convene a meeting with industry to find an agreed way, he was ready if necessary to “impose a solution on them in law” to cover the estimated £4bn costs to deal with the issue.

There are estimated to be about 78,000 residential buildings between 11m and 18m in height in England as of September 2021.

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