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Cardiff Politics South Wales

Developers don’t intend to sign up to multi-million pound Welsh fire safety grant

Vega House is the tallest apartment block at Celestia in Cardiff Bay (Pic: Ted Peskett)

NUMEROUS developers operating in Wales said they don’t intend to apply for a multi-million pound grant aimed at helping them to make their buildings safer.

Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Redrow said they don’t intend to make us of the Welsh Building Safety Developer Loan, with the developers saying they will be funding the works themselves.

McCarthy Stone has two buildings more than 11m in height, which qualifies the developer for the remediation loan, but it said  no work is required on these buildings and so it will not be making use of the scheme.

Vistry declined to comment when approached on the issue, but it does not expect any of its buildings in Wales to require work.

The £20m interest-free loan scheme is designed to encourage major developers to carry out essential fire safety work as soon as possible.

Details behind the scheme were laid out in March 2023 and Cardiff Council agreed to develop, operate and administer the scheme in May 2023.

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The council is expected to roll out the scheme soon.

Residents campaigning for fire safety improvements and remediation of high-rise apartment blocks in Wales hit out at the Welsh Government last week over what they see as the delayed publication of data showing the work done by developers so far.

Welsh Minister for climate change, Julie James, said the Welsh Government is working towards publishing the data “in the coming months” – a comment that one group of campaigners, Ripped off by Redrow, called “totally unacceptable”.

The Welsh Government said it was working with developers to ensure works are progressed as quickly as possible and that quarterly monitoring took place with developers, which included scrutiny of current progress and future plans.

Under the terms of a legally binding pact set up by the Welsh Government, major developers in Wales are committed to carrying out fire safety works on medium and high-rise buildings across Wales.

It was announced in March 2023 that six developers had signed up to the contract – Redrow, McCarthy Stone, Lovell, Vistry, Persimmon, and Countryside.

Taylor Wimpey, Crest Nicholson and Barratt said at the time that they intended to sign it.

At the time of publication, Lovell, Countryside, Crest Nicholson and Barratt have still not responded to the Local Democracy Reporting Service’s (LDRS) request to answer whether or not they will make use of the Welsh Building Safety Developer Loan.

The LDRS understands that when Cardiff Council contacted major developers via the Welsh Government to see if they wanted to help the local authority set the terms and conditions of the scheme, no one took up the offer.

It is also understood that, with the scheme ready to roll out, developers will be contacted again and offered the opportunity to apply for the loan.

The loan agreement and associated documents are expected to be complete by the end of February 2024 and the scheme will remain open even if there is no immediate take up.

Work is already under way on three of Persimmon’s four affected sites in Wales and the final development is due to commence later this year.

Redrow, which looks set to be bought out by Barratt in a £2.5bn deal, said it is continuing to progress with its fire safety building works.
The proposed Redrow/Barratt combination will require relevant approvals to progress further.

Works are due to commence on Taylor Wimpey’s first building in Wales requiring attention sometime between April and June 2024.