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Cardiff Council leading on loan scheme for critical fire safety works

(Adobe Stock)

Cardiff Council is developing a loan scheme to ensure developers of high and medium-rise apartment blocks across Wales can carry out critical fire safety works as quickly as possible, helping to ensure residents feel safe and secure in their own homes.

The Council would operate the £20m Welsh Building Safety Developer Loan Scheme, providing interest free loans to eligible developers in Wales.  The Council is best placed to undertake this role as a significant number of the buildings likely to be in scope are in Cardiff.

Developers who wish to take advantage of this offer will rightly be expected to pay back every penny of funding to the public purse within five years.

Following the tragedy at Grenfell, the Welsh Government has made significant progress to identify fire safety issues in Welsh residential medium and high-rise buildings, with the focus on all residential buildings of 11 metres and over in height.  As well as remediating buildings in the social sector; addressing orphan buildings and in developing a leaseholder support scheme, designed to help people in Wales who are in or facing significant financial hardship as a direct result of fire safety issues.

This new loan will build on that activity and be available to participant developers who have signed up to Welsh Government’s Pact, agreeing their intention to fund and undertake all necessary remediation as quickly as reasonably possible to address life-critical fire-safety defects in these buildings.

Welsh Government wants to ensure that any reasons for delay are minimised, and developers are able to carry out works as swiftly as possible.

The scheme will remove any potential delays developers may face while financing is arranged to address matters such as compartmentalisation, fire breaks and fire doors as well as cladding risks.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “I would like to thank Cardiff Council for agreeing to develop this scheme which will remove any barriers that could stop developers completing works.

“We have provided £20 million loan funding to send a message that, in Wales, we will do everything we can to ensure works are carried out as quickly as possible by developers.

“Again, I would like to commend those developers who have signed up to the Welsh Government legally binding documentation, and look forward to a productive relationship and swift resolution to fire safety issues in our medium and high rise buildings.”

Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne said: “In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy, the Council took steps to remove all cladding that no longer met current fire safety standards on own high-rise flats, to ensure residents felt safe.

“Now, we are pleased to be playing a part in supporting private residents in the city and across Wales by developing this scheme. We understand the concerns of residents impacted by this issue, and the difficulties they have faced over recent years so the public commitment of participant developers to remedy these critical issues is very welcome.

“Providing reassurance to residents on their own safety and security is our chief aim here and we are pleased to collaborate with Welsh Government to this end, which will enable developers to meet their responsibility as quickly as possible.”

Under the terms of the arrangement with Welsh Government, the Council would be responsible for administering the provision of the loan fundonly and would have no role in determining whether works have been completed to required standards.

At its next meeting on Thursday May 18, Cabinet will consider the recommendation that the Council works with the Welsh Government to develop, operate and administer the Welsh Building Safety Developer Loan Scheme.