Cladding removal deadline ‘expected’ to be met, despite delays

Government Ministers expect all Grenfell style ACM cladding panels to be removed from social housing high-rise tower blocks by the 31 December deadline despite the current slow rate of progress.

The deadline was originally set by the former Housing Secretary James Brokenshire back in the summer, but has more recently been confirmed by a spokesman at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The private sector is expected to complete the removal work by June 2020 – which will be three years after the Grenfell fire.

There may be some permitted “exceptional cases” where buildings miss the end of year deadline because they include complexities, such as being unusually shaped and requiring additional time and work.

In the latest update it was reported that ACM cladding had yet to be removed and replaced on 98 social housing high rises. Work had started but was not completed on 83 blocks, work had yet to begin on 13 buildings and plans are still being developed for the remaining two. These figures are actually slightly worse than those reported during October and it is hard to see how the end of year target will be met.

There are 169 private sector high rises where ACM cladding has yet to be removed – 25 have started remediation; 77 have a remediation plan in place but works have not started; 66 have responded with an intent to remediate and are developing plans; and just one building has an unclear remediation plan. There are a further 11 private sector high-rise buildings where the status of the cladding has yet to be confirmed.

A total of 61 social housing high rise blocks with ACM cladding have had all remediation works completed, including sign off from building control. The figure for private sector completions is just 15 buildings.

The buildings yet to be remediated account for approximately 7,600 flats and maisonettes in the social housing sector and between 13,300 and 17,100 in the private sector. There are 18 student accommodation buildings yet to complete remediation works and 26 hotels similarly affected.

No deadlines have yet been set for the removal of other forms of combustible cladding panels, which campaigners have also been lobbying for. They claim other forms of cladding are every bit as dangerous as those made from aluminium composite materials.

During the initial debate in the House of Commons on the Grenfell Inquiry phase one report, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick urged all owners of affected tower blocks to proceed with remediation works, or to risk being named and shamed.

The Government has provided a £400m fund for remediation work in the social housing sector and £200m for remediation work in the private sector.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor