Tue 15 Aug 2023

Cladding remediation in Scotland: Developers' commitment to Scottish Ministers

2023 will be a significant time for developers as the UK and Scottish Governments progress their cladding remediation programmes. As of 6 June 2023, eight large developers have signed the Scottish Safer Building Accord’s (SSBA) “Developer Commitment Letter” to Scottish Ministers.

Several fire safety regulation changes were made following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, including a ban on combustible cladding for high-rise buildings. In May 2022, the Scottish Government announced that it was working with key partners to develop a Scottish Safer Buildings Accord to “identify fair and workable solutions” for cladding remediation.

The commitment concerns multi-residential domestic buildings over 11 metres which were developed or refurbished by them in the 30 years preceding 1 June 2022 in Scotland.

What do the Commitment Letters mean?

The signatories publicly recognised that homeowners should not bear the cost of remedial work for Buildings which they developed or refurbished. They pledged to work:

“In good faith with the Scottish Government to establish remediation contracts, funding proposals, time frames and communication plans to progress remediation.”

Two stages have been identified:

  1. The use of a Single Building Assessment, to ensure a transparent and uniform approach to the evaluation of relevant buildings.
  2. Agree to the terms of a binding contract with the developer which:
    1. Reflects the SSBA’s principles; and
    2. Engages with the proprietors of affected buildings.

The impact of these Letters

The commitment letter does not constitute a legally binding document. However, it does provide next steps for developers to identify buildings which will become subject to Single Building Assessments.

The future of cladding remediation in Scotland

Whilst the SSBA is based on a voluntary collaborative approach from developers, as with the UK Government pledge, this is set against the background of possible forced cooperation.

On 18 May 2023, speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Humza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland stated:

“While I urge [developers] to do so voluntarily, we will use all the levers at our disposal including legislation if necessary, to remediate buildings and to protect residents.”

This article was co-written by Georgie Naysmith, Trainee Solicitor.

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