Persimmon sets aside £75m to fix unsafe cladding on 26 tower blocks

Housebuilder Persimmon sets aside £75million to fix unsafe cladding on 26 tower blocks it constructed

  • It identified 9 high-rise buildings over 18m where cladding may need removing
  • A further 17 buildings less than 18m tall may also need investigating, it said
  • Government to announce billions in funding to help tackle the cladding crisis 

Persimmon has set aside £75 million to fix potentially unsafe cladding on 26 tower blocks it constructed.

The housebuilding giant said it had identified nine high-rise buildings over 18 metres built by the group where cladding may need to be removed, although it no longer owns the sites.

There are also a further 17 buildings less than 18 metres tall that may be fitted with unsafe cladding and need investigating.

However, the housebuilder declined to reveal the locations of any of the sites, while conversations continue with management companies and residents.

Persimmon has set aside £75 million to fix potentially unsafe cladding on 26 tower blocks it constructed

The manager who sold flammable cladding for Grenfell Tower was given tough sales targets but no training on the product’s fire safety, an inquiry heard yesterday.

Deborah French was hired as the UK cladding sales manager by construction giant Arconic even though she had no knowledge of the product.

She sold panels with a combustible polyethylene core to contractors refurbishing the tower block in Kensington, west London. Speaking at the public inquiry into the disaster, Miss French said she attended a week-long induction at Arconic’s offices in France when she joined the firm.

She described being given ‘training on every aspect of sales’. However the 54-year-old said she was not given any technical training and instead had to learn ‘on the job’.

Persimmon said it would book the charge in its 2020 results to cover its contribution for work on the buildings, with its full-year figures set to be announced on March 3.

It comes as the Government is expected to announce billions of pounds in funding today to help tackle the cladding crisis more than three-and-a-half years after the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017.

Persimmon said it believes it accounts for less than 1% of all high-rise developments.

‘However, in the past we have built multi-storey buildings which met all the fire safety rules and regulations in place at the time, but which used cladding materials which may now be considered unsafe and require removal,’ it added.

Chairman Roger Devlin said: ‘At Persimmon, we believe we have a clear duty to act to address this issue.

‘Where we still own the building, we will act. Where we no longer own them, we will work with the owners to make sure they meet their legal responsibilities and duty.

‘If the owner does not step up then we will act to remove uncertainty and anxiety for residents and make the buildings safe.’

Persimmon said it was in the process of writing to building owners and management companies to inform them of the findings of its review and to agree next steps.

It said it wanted to ‘progress matters as swiftly as possible, minimising uncertainty and concern for residents’.

The Government has been facing growing criticism over how it has handled the cladding crisis, with many people, especially leaseholders, trapped in potentially unsafe homes, which they cannot sell, and being asked to pay for remediation works.

The Grenfell fire in 2017 was sparked by a fault in a fridge-freezer and spread quickly to several floors of the west London tower, with the cladding and insulation cited as the cause for the rapid progression of the blaze.

It comes as the Government is expected to announce billions of pounds in funding today to help tackle the cladding crisis more than three-and-a-half years after the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017 

Conservative MP and Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley said the Government should acknowledge leaseholders are not liable for unsafe cladding.

It comes as Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is expected to announce billions of pounds in funding to help tackle the cladding crisis more than three and a half years after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

When asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme what he would like to see in the bailout package, Sir Peter said: ‘First of all an acceptance that the only tenants who are being asked to pay at the moment are leaseholders, who aren’t really holding anything except for the liability for the buildings they don’t own.

‘They need to provide the money so that remediation can take place, for buildings to be made safe, they need to be made saleable which means you can’t have liabilities hanging around the necks of individual leaseholders.

‘And as and when liabilities are sorted out by the inquiry and by civil cases, which I’m sure are going to come, you must leave leaseholders out of the liabilities.’

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