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Getting developers to sign remediation contracts ‘priority’ – Clarke

  • 18/10/2022
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Getting developers to sign remediation contracts ‘priority’ – Clarke
Securing signed contracts from developers to commit to remediate unsafe buildings is a priority for the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke (pictured).

Speaking in a debate about home ownership yesterday, Clarke said: “My commitment to making sure that we follow through on the issue of remediating unsafe buildings is total.”

He noted that around 24 buildings over 18 metres were yet to be remediated “in the right way”, and his “priority” was to get developers to sign contracts that his predecessor Michael Gove had introduced to ensure remediation.

Clarke added that he would be meeting developers shortly, and confirmed that developers had committed to signing contracts in the summer and he would “make sure that they fulfill their responsibilities”.

Greg Clark, who held the role of housing minister between July and September, confirmed earlier this year the formal contracts had been sent to major British housebuilders, adding at the time that translating pledges into action was “essential”.

Clarke added that the government was taking action against freeholders who had “declined to remediate the building that they are committed to look after” and pointed to recent pre-action notice service to the owners of Vista Tower in Stevenage.

Clarke was appointed to the role in September following a reshuffle of the cabinet under new prime minister Liz Truss. He is the fourth housing secretary in 12 months.

Government needs to ‘communicate clearly’

Clarke said that the government needed to “communicate clearly with the public about all the support and options that are available”, as low interest rate environment era comes to an end and creates challenges for future and existing homeowners.

He continued that the Chancellor would help to deliver “calm, clear messaging that we want so that we can reassure investors and the markets that there is a clear way forward on this vital question so that we can get interest rates as low as possible”.

Clarke was also asked about rumours that the government were considering raising the threshold for affordable housing requirements for private developers, which he denied was on the table.

He explained: “We are looking at all the options that are open to us to try to accelerate house building across the country. The reality is that we want to look at all those options. We have consulted on that particular option before, and we have decided not to do it.

“It is an issue that we keep under review, but the reasons that applied in our decision not to proceed then are very powerful.”


Help to Buy ‘huge success’ but was never designed to be permanent

Clarke praised the Help to Buy scheme, noting that it had been a “huge success” helping over 316,000 householder buy a new build since its launch in 2013 until March this year.

He continued: “However, it was never designed to be a permanent intervention in the housing market. The closure at the end of March 2023 has been planned and publicised since the 2018 Budget, which has allowed the market to respond by introducing several products that provide similar levels of support to Help to Buy for first-time buyers.”

Clarke added that several schemes had been introduced since then, such as First Homes and the mortgage guarantee scheme.

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