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Councils given new powers to enforce removal of ACM cladding from privately owned buildings

The government has given additional powers to local authorities seeking to take enforcement action to remove Grenfell-style cladding from private buildings in order to speed up the process.

Councils will receive financial support to “speed up” the removal of the cladding from private buildings over 18 metres, the government has said. The cost of removals will be recovered from building owners, according to an announcement from Communities Secretary James Brokenshire on 29th November.

The Communities Secretary is taking action specifically to speed up the replacement of unsafe aluminium composite (ACM) cladding, like the type used on Grenfell Tower.

As outlined on the gov.uk website, local authorities will get the government’s full backing, including financial support if necessary, to enable them to carry out emergency work on affected private residential buildings with unsafe ACM cladding. They will recover the costs from building owners. This will allow buildings to be made permanently safe without delay.

The government is already fully funding the replacement of unsafe ACM cladding on social sector buildings above 18 metres.

James Brokenshire said:

“Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes and I have repeatedly made clear that building owners and developers must replace dangerous ACM cladding. And the costs must not be passed on to leaseholders.

 

“My message is clear – private building owners must pay for this work now or they should expect to pay more later.”

James Brokenshire also announced a ban on all types of combustible cladding, including ACM, with hospitals, care homes and high-rise schools included alongside all new high-rise housing.

Construction News reported:

“The ban on combustible materials follows on from the report by Dame Hackitt, which called for a new regulatory system for fire safety, but stopped short of proposing an outright ban on the use of combustible cladding.”

Last month Construction News revealed that re-cladding was yet to begin on a 95-home Barratt development in Croydon because the property manager was unwilling to start work until it received “absolute clarity” over what materials it could use.

Barratt, the original developer of Citiscape block, agreed to pay for the work nearly six months ago.

A total of 289 privately owned high-rise residential blocks have been identified as using similar ACM cladding to Grenfell. Panels have been removed, or are in the process of being removed, at 40 of these blocks. As reported in the Guardian on 29th November, the government has spent £400m replacing such panels and insulation on social housing across England and said it would now provide cash to councils to carry out works on private blocks on the basis that they would have the powers to reclaim it.

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