UK tells housing firms: Pay to fix unsafe buildings or face development ban
LONDON (Reuters) - Housing companies will be blocked from new development work unless they agree to pay for cladding removal and other repairs on unsafe multi-storey buildings - a bill totalling 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) - the British government said on Monday.
Ministers want developers to sign a contract committing them to pay to fix buildings which have been classed as unsafe under new safety standards brought in following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which killed 72 people.
The blaze revealed the widespread use of cheap flammable cladding on apartment blocks across the country, and left the government, developers and apartment owners at loggerheads over who should pay to make the buildings safe.
In a statement on Monday, the government said new legislation it planned for the spring would give ministers the power to stop builders which don't sign the contract from working in the housing market.
"There will be nowhere to hide for those who fail to step up to their responsibilities - I will not hesitate to act and they will face significant consequences," said minister Michael Gove, who runs the government department in charge of housing, in a statement on Monday.
They will not be able to develop properties and will not receive building control approval, said the statement.
The new contract will commit companies to an estimated 2 billion pounds of repairs on buildings they have developed or refurbished over the past 30 years.
Where government funds have already been used to fix buildings, developers will reimburse authorities.
($1 = 0.8059 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by William James)