Developer to replace dangerous cladding on Croydon tower block

Developer Barratt Homes has promised to cover £2 million of work on a high-rise block in Croydon, south London, which failed cladding safety tests after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Residents were left in fear of debt after the building's private owners refused to pay the cost of removing and replacing the dangerous cladding, insisting the leaseholders of the apartments were responsible.

Block failed post-Grenfell fire tests

Citiscape's cladding failed final system combustibility testing carried out last August following the deaths of 71 people in a tower block fire in west London.

Last week a leaked report confirmed that flammable cladding added during renovation works at Grenfell Tower contributed to the rapid spread of the deadly fire.

Citiscape's freehold is owned by Proxima GR Properties, a company held in the family trust of multimillionaire Vincent Tchenguiz. Together with his brother Robert, Tchenguiz has an estimated net worth of £850 million.

Residents threatened with bearing fire safety costs

FirstPort Property Services, which manages the building on behalf of Proxima, told the residents of the 93 apartments they would have to pay £31,100 per home to make the building safe.

Costs were estimated at between £1.8 and £2 million, with FirstPort warning that any delay in moving forward with the work would cause costs to rise as they employed fire wardens on walking watches in the meantime.

Complaints were raised by both residents and FirstPort that the British government had failed to take a strong enough stance on whose responsibility it is to pay for cladding replacement.

Original building developers promised to pay

Developers Barratt Homes, which built the block 16 years ago, had no legal responsibility to pay for the work but announced last week it would pay both future and backdated costs for the fire wardens along with cladding removal and replacement.

"Following the recent ruling that the costs for necessary re-cladding at Citiscape will fall on the individual apartment owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided that we will pay for the work," the developers said in a statement.

"Citiscape was built in line with all building regulations in place at the time of construction," it continued.

"While we don't own the building or have any liability for the cladding, we are committed to putting our customers first. The important thing now is ensuring that owners and residents have peace of mind."

Government asked private owners not to pass on costs

In response to the news, housing secretary Sajid Javid praised Barratt Homes and encouraged other developers to follow suit.

"They have listened to the concerns of Citiscape residents, engaged with government and have done the right thing," Javid said in his official statement.

"Other building owners and house builders in the private sector should follow the example set by Barratt Developments to protect leaseholders from costs and begin essential fire safety works."

The minister for housing had promised that residents in social housing blocks found to be unsafe would not have to cover the cost of vital fire safety improvements.

Javid insisted he had been clear "from the outset" that private sector landlords, freeholders and house builders should do the same and not pass on the costs to residents.

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