Developer London Square blasts government for ’discredit’ done to the firm by department’s handling of fire safety pledge


Housing secretary Michael Gove threatened to effectively put housebuilders out of business if they did not sign the pledge

Housebuilders Telford Homes and London Square have signed the government’s cladding contract, after the government said they had missed Monday’s deadline. 

Michael Gove had named 11 developers that had not signed the ’self remediation’ contract on Tuesday to carry out fire safety repairs on blocks over 11m, reading out their names in the House of Commons. 

London Square, said the government’s handling of the matter was “very disappointing” as the department had now conceded that it had not built any homes with fire safety or cladding problems. 

The housing secretary in the Commons on Tuesday threatened to stop any developers not signing the contract from being able to start new developments in England or receive building control approval for work already underway.

By Wednesday, Rydon, a sister company of Grenfell contractor Rydon Maintenance, was the only housebuilder to have indicated it would not sign up to the contract. 

A spokesperson for Telford Homes said: “[We] can confirm we have signed the government’s binding pledge contract.” 

London Square in a statement said its lawyers had “made it clear to the legal team for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that the standard agreement we had been sent was inappropriate and not relevant to London Square”. 

It said: “We have never had any cladding or fire safety issues yet remain totally committed to the pledge signed last year that leaseholders should not have to pay for any costs associated with fire safety remediation work and our agreement needed to reflect this.”

The statement continued: “It is deeply disheartening that 30 minutes after the government announced the list of non-compliant developers, including London Square, who had not signed, their legal team conceded to London Square that the agreement needed to be modified, a point we had been making to them for some time.”

It was “very disappointing that the government’s handling of the matter has discredited our excellent track record for building high quality homes and we have had to defend our reputation as a result,” the housebuilder added. 

Meanwhile, two other builders on the list read out by Gove said they intended to sign the contract. Dandara, which has offices in England, Scotland, Jersey and the Isle of Man, said it had not been invited to any of the original consultations between the government, Homes Builders Federation and 50 of the UK’s biggest housebuilding companies, which had delayed it signing the contract. 

“We have proactively engaged with owners and management companies to investigate and undertake any remediation works that may be required in respect of fire safety issues. We expect to sign the developer remediation contract imminently,” a spokesperson for Dandara said. 

Inland Homes stated it had been in “regular dialogue” with DLUHC, law firm Slaughter & May (which has been assisting DLUHC prepare the ’developer remediation contract’) and the House Builders Federation (HBF) since 30 January. 

The troubled developer, which is without a chief executive following a string of profit warnings and recently saw its chair and a number of senior board members resign, said: “Inland requested for an extension of time due to recent changes to its board of directors. Regular dialogue is continuing with DLUHC and Slaughter & May, and Inland hopes to be able to sign the contract during April 2023.”

Firms signing the contract commit to remediating blocks over 11m in which they have had any development or refurbishment involvement over the past 30 years. The ‘self remediation’ contract provides the legal agreement underpinning the developer pledge signed by 49 developers last year.

The government updated its list yesterday, saying it had “transferred London Square Development (Holdings) Limited and Telford Homes Limited from the list of developers who have yet to sign the contract to the list of developers who have signed the contract.”