Sunday, May 16, 2021

Housebuilder Persimmon sets aside £75m for cladding removal | Persimmon

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The housebuilder Persimmon has set aside £75m to pay for any work needed to remove cladding on its high-rise buildings after a review of its past developments.

The developer is mostly known for constructing family homes but has identified 26 multi-storey buildings it constructed that have cladding that may need to be removed.

The company’s financial commitment came before an expected ministerial announcement from the government about providing billions of pounds of extra support for the owners of flats in buildings covered with cladding.

The Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 exposed the dangerous defects in thousands of apartment blocks across the UK, many of which were covered in flammable cladding.

The subsequent cladding crisis sparked disagreements over who is responsible for paying for its removal, with some homeowners facing huge bills for the work.

Conservative MPs have said that building firms and cladding manufacturers should be pursued for costs, yet there have been calls for government support, as leaseholders have been left with flats that are unsellable, unmortgageable and uninsurable.

Persimmon believes its buildings account for less than 1% of all UK high-rise developments.

However, it confirmed that some of its multi-storey buildings used cladding materials that may now be considered unsafe and may need to be removed, even though they met the fire safety rules and regulations that were in place at the time.

Roger Devlin, the chairman of Persimmon, said that the concerns around cladding are affecting thousands of homeowners in high-rise buildings.

“At Persimmon, we believe we have a clear duty to act to address this issue,” Devlin said. “Where we still own the building we will act. Where we no longer own them we will work with the owners to make sure they meet their legal responsibilities and duty. If the owner does not step up, then we will act to remove uncertainty and anxiety for residents and make the buildings safe.

“This is a decision which we believe is not only right for residents but also the right thing for us to do as one of the leading housebuilders in the UK.”

The group has identified nine high-rise buildings it developed that are more than 18 metres tall, where cladding may need to be removed, in line with government guidance.

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Persimmon no longer owns these buildings but said it will provide technical support to ensure the building is made safe, and will also help to complete the work if the building owner does not accept its responsibilities.

In addition, the company has identified 17 buildings below 18 metres that may be fitted with cladding and which require detailed investigation. Persimmon said it will lead the work on the buildings which it still owns and will provide support for the owners in other cases.

Persimmon said it is writing to building owners and management companies about its review of its developments and to agree the next steps, and that it intends to act swiftly.

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