A significant update has been issued on a series of actions the Welsh Government is taking to tackle building safety issues.
The update is part of Welsh Government’s cooperation agreement with Plaid Cymru that promises to ‘significantly reform the current system of building safety’ in Wales.
Climate Change Minister Julie James described it as an ‘ambitious programme’ that would make residents feel ‘safe and secure in their homes’.
The Minister gave the update in the Senedd this afternoon and confirmed that major developers had agreed to sign a legally binding Pact that commits them to carry out fire safety works on medium and high-rise buildings across Wales.
Redrow, McCarthy Stone, Lovell, Vistry, Persimmon and Countryside have all signed the new pact.
Taylor Wimpey, Crest Nicholson and Barrett have confirmed they intend to sign.
The Welsh Government also committed to step in and carry out remediation work in an initial cohort of 28 privately owned buildings where a developer is unknown or has ceased trading – sometimes referred to as ‘orphan buildings’.
The Welsh Government says this work will minimise fire safety risks ‘as quickly as possible.
More than £40m has been made available to remediate a further 38 social sector buildings. This is in addition to the 26 social sector buildings that have been remediated to date and 41 social sector buildings where work has started.
Details of a new £20m Welsh Building Safety Developer Loan Scheme was also confirmed today.
The scheme will provide interest-free loans over a period of up to five years to assist developers with remediation works to address fire safety issues in buildings of 11 metres or more in Wales.
It is only available to developers who have committed to undertake remediation works through signing the legally binding Welsh Government’s Developers’ Pact.
The aim is to prevent any delays to remediation that could be caused by financial reasons.
Climate Change Minister Julie James said:
Our ambitious programme will ensure residents can feel safe and secure in their homes.
I have always maintained the position that the industry should step-up to their responsibilities in matters of fire safety.
Developers should put right fire safety faults at their own cost or risk their professional reputation and their ability to operate in Wales in future.
I am pleased that, today, developers have done the right thing and committed to remediate fire safety works on medium and high-rise buildings across Wales.
Our approach in Wales has, and will continue to be, to work in collaboration with developers and I look forward to seeing work undertaken at pace.
Designated Member Sian Gwenllian added:
Through our Co-operation Agreement we are committed to introducing a Second Phase of Welsh Building Safety Fund and reforming the system of building safety.
I would like to recognise the efforts of those who have campaigned to highlight these issues.
While recognising that there is still more to be done, I welcome today’s progress update and I am glad that the £375m of funding put in place as part of Plaid Cymru’s Co-operation Agreement with the Government will be used to address fire safety issues, including the remediation of orphan building from this summer onwards.
It was also confirmed that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has agreed to extend their guidance to valuers in Wales as well as England.
This extended guidance will provide consistency in the valuation approach for properties that are part of the Welsh Government’s Building Safety Programme.
This will help support the removal of barriers and allow leaseholders to access mortgages and other financial products, providing consistency and clarity for all stakeholders.
Luay Al-Khatib, RICS Director of Standards and Professional Development said:
We are pleased to be able to extend our guidance to include Wales, following the establishment of the Welsh Building Safety Fund.
This brings much needed confidence to buyers, sellers, and the market, and ensures a consistent approach.”
We look forward to working with the Welsh Government to implement an orderly and swift update with support of stakeholders, to help those impacted by the building safety crisis.