As commented on previously (see here), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (“DLUHC”) has been engaged in prolonged discussions with the developers, who previously pledged to remediate life-critical fire-safety defects in buildings that they played a role in either developing or refurbishing, over the terms of the contract to formalise the developers' commitments.
The DLUHC has today published the final version of the contract and, in a strongly worded letter to the 49 developers who signed the pledge, indicated that the developers only have until Monday 13 March 2023 to sign the contract. The letter goes on to state that:
- it is the Government's intention to bring a Responsible Actors Scheme into law in England, in accordance with the provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022, under which the Secretary of State will be able to block developers from both commencing developments with planning permission and receiving building control approval for in-progress builds; and
- non-signatories of the contract "should expect that fact to be public" and that:
- the DLUHC will take steps to inform investors and customers of the risks arising from continuing their commercial relationships with such developers; and
- the Government will also review its own commercial relationships, programmes, engagement, and procurement frameworks with such developers.
Burges Salmon comment
The DLUHC's comments evidence the Government's intention to bring the prolonged negotiations between the DLUHC, and the developers who signed the pledge, to an end and to compel the developers to enter into formal contracts to make their pledge commitments legally binding.
This announcement should provide significant reassurance to the leaseholders and building owners of the affected buildings that life-critical fire-safety defects in their buildings will now be remediated, and that the necessary remedial works will be carried out at the developers cost.
We will be issuing a full briefing on the contents of the contract in due course.