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Comment: ‘We need more action not words for building safety’

·1-min read
Construction of a high-rise London apartment block  (Shutterstock / Artem Yampolcev)
Construction of a high-rise London apartment block (Shutterstock / Artem Yampolcev)

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire and, depressingly, safety concerns for UK homes are once again in the spotlight.

The prime minister tweeted that his thoughts were with the survivors and the community yesterday morning, but I suspect anyone caught up in the ongoing cladding crisis would choose action over thoughts if given the choice.

On June 29 the new Building Safety Act comes into force, putting the onus on developers to pay for costs associated with remedying historic fire safety issues in residential towers rather than on individual leaseholders.

But, like last week’s government extension of the Right to Buy scheme, many ideas contained in the Act are merely a framework for action — in this case for improving building safety — not a comprehensive guide to how changes will work in reality. Or when.

Most provisions will take from 12 to 18 months to come into effect with details set to be fleshed out only in the next year.

Many homeowners have been in limbo for years, among them is paralegal Zoe Bartley, who is none the wiser about when remedial work will start, two years after flammable cladding was found on her block in Chelmsford.

More than 1,000 London residential buildings above 11 metres have serious fire safety failings. Residents have spent years raising concerns — as those in Grenfell Tower did before the blaze that killed 72 people.

These tragedies are preventable; let’s hope we have more than just a framework for change before the next anniversary.

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