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Housing committee’s chair attacks Government for failing to protect leaseholders

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Homeowners living in unsafe cladding flats must be protected from the £15BILLION fire safety repair bill, says Housing Select Committee chair

  • We speak to the Communities and Local Government committee’s Clive Betts MP
  • Mr Betts calls on the Government to take responsibility for the cladding crisis

The new Fire Safety Act failed to protect all leaseholders from cladding repair costs and the head of the committee that scrutinises Government housing policy is not holding back about who needs to pick up the bill.

Chairman of the Communities and Local Government committee, Clive Betts MP, spoke exclusively to us about the cladding situation in Britain and why he believes more needs to be done to help flat owners affected.

We asked him about what the solution is to Britain’s cladding crisis, how much it will cost to sort out, and whether all leaseholders should be prevented from picking up the bill.

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, concerns about cladding have become a national issue

Mr Betts’ interview comes after the Fire Safety Bill became law last month, following a parliamentary battle over who should pay to fix fire-trap flats after the Grenfell disaster.

Controversially, some leaseholders are still legally liable for the cost of fixing unsafe cladding and other fire safety defects.

Taxpayer funding was more than trebled in February to £5.1billion. But the cash is only for those living in buildings above 60ft with unsafe cladding.

We asked Mr Betts about how long he thought it was going to take to resolve the cladding crisis as leaseholders continue to live in unsafe homes.

Many flat owners still don’t have a timetable in place for the works or a final bill, and in the meantime have no option but to continue living in unsafe flats.

He said: ‘All of them face the situation now where the property they live in is unsafe and they can’t afford to make it safe.

‘There is the double worry of having the insecurity of an unsafe home and the possibility of having debt they cannot afford to repay. It is a horrible position to be in.’ 

What do you think the solution is to Britain’s cladding crisis?   

We spoke to Clive Betts MP about the cladding crisis

We spoke to Clive Betts MP about the cladding crisis

Mr Betts said: ‘The answer is for the Government to realise that this is a responsibility they are going to have to take on in the first instance.

‘We could wait for action to be taken against the architects, the contractors and subcontractors but even if that is successful, that could take years. Some developments have been sold on to other organisations, while other developers are out of business now.

‘We are going to resolve the problem by the Government taking responsibility, but that responsibility should be shared with the industry, both the constructors and product suppliers. A levy or a tax is good idea. But in the first instance, the Government has to get on and make the buildings safe.’

What measures do you want to see in the Building Safety Fund to protect leaseholders from repairs bills?  

He said: ‘What I would like to see in the Building Safety Fund is money made available not only to cover cladding but all safety defects, and not just those buildings over 18 metres. We need to sure all multi-storey buildings are safe. Tenants should not have to pay either.

‘While waiting to make it safe, you could pay thousands of pounds a month in waking watches.’

What is stopping the repair work from being carried out and the Government paying for it? 

Mr Betts said: ‘Our best estimate was £15billion, but at this stage, even the Government doesn’t know the scale of this. It is not just buildings that have cladding, but those that have a fire risk.’ 

How do you see this unfolding and what will it take to resolve this?  

He said: ‘Eventually, the Government is going to have to accept responsibility. The horrible thing that worries me is that will it take another disaster. There needs to be continued pressure on MPs as many will have affected properties in their constituency.

‘They need to speak out. The more we can get people talking about their first-hand experience, the more we can get the message across that these are ordinary families who bought their first home, who want to start a family, or who are in retirement – and they have acute anxiety and are under enormous pressure.’

Do you think this will be resolved in the next 10 years? 

‘Yes, I think it has to be and that it will be. As a rich and civilised country, in 2021, we should not be seeing people live in unsafe homes,’ he concluded. 

THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

The Government responded to calls for it to take responsibility for the cladding crisis, saying speculation about what it would cost was ‘unhelpful’.

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘Speculative figures on cladding remediation are unreliable and unhelpful.

‘The Government is bringing forward the biggest improvements to building safety in 40 years through our Building Safety Bill and an unprecedented £5billion funding package to protect leaseholders from the cost of replacing unsafe cladding.

‘This does not absolve building owners of the responsibility to make their buildings safe and they must take swift action to remediate safety issues, without passing on costs to leaseholders.

‘Work is already complete or under way in the vast majority of high-rise buildings with unsafe ACM cladding.’

 

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Tungsten and BC Partners launch €296m industrial JV (GB)

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Tungsten Properties have signed a transformative €296m (£250m) JV funding agreement with BC Partners. The newly formed joint venture company will target single and multi-let industrial opportunities across the UK, which will range from last-mile to big box logistics warehouses with a GDV of greater than €29.6m (£25m). Tungsten Properties will act as asset and development manager for the joint venture. With a strong conviction in the underlying occupational fundamentals of the industrial warehousing sector, the joint venture has already identified a strong pipeline to initially seed the partnership.

 

Jeff Penman, managing director, Tungsten Properties said:“This is a significant step in Tungsten’s expansion strategy to continue to deliver industrial and warehouse space to create growth, jobs and investor returns. This transformational JV agreement with BC Partners will provide reliable capital to continue delivering strategically located, environmentally friendly buildings across the UK. While there is volatility in the capital markets, both Tungsten and BC Partners believe that the industrial market’s long-term fundamentals remain strong. With a fighting fund behind us, we look forward to securing further opportunities.”

 

Laurian Douin, partner, BC Partners said: “The UK industrial and warehouse sector has strong secular fundamentals. Given Tungsten’s strong track record and like-minded approach to development, we are thrilled to partner with them to jointly invest in this asset class. The joint venture intends to deliver well-located, exceptional schemes to meet occupier demand, with a particular focus on schemes’ environmental credentials in-line with BC Partners Real Estate’s commitment to ESG.”

 

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Four homes for sale with swimming pools: With price tags from £1.1m to £190k

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Owning a property with a swimming pool might seem like one of life’s luxuries that is reserved for millionaires.

But, as our pick of homes for sale with swimming pools proves, you don’t have to have a multi-million pound property to have one.

That said, you may still need deep pockets for their upkeep, which can be costly, particularly if you want to keep your swimming pool heated to a comfortable temperature.

While water shortages and hosepipe bans are hitting the headlines, a pool that is already filled with water will not draw on resources but may be forbidden from being topped up by hosepipe in the case of a ban.

Our pick of four properties for sale with swimming pools are for various budgets, ranging from £1.1million to £190,000 (scroll down for more information about the house pictured)

Our pick of four properties for sale with swimming pools are for various budgets, ranging from £1.1million to £190,000 (scroll down for more information about the house pictured)

Here, we take a look at four swimming pools at properties for those with a range of different budgets.

At the top end is a six-bedroom house in Ramsgate, Kent. with an acre of land that includes an outdoor swimming pool. It has a price tag of £1.1million.

At the other end is three-bedroom property in Ashington, Northumberland, with an empty indoor swimming pool and an asking price of only £190,000.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘With Britain currently experiencing a heatwave, it’s no surprise that homes with swimming pools are proving to be increasingly popular.

‘Whether your budget is more in the deep or shallow end, some homes with pools may be more affordable than you think.

‘While the rise in energy bills will have a very real impact on those wanting to heat a pool, at this time of year a refreshing dip may be just what’s needed.’

Four properties with swimming pools… 

1. Six-bed house, Ramsgate, £1.1m

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent, which is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent, which is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents

The property is called Pond Cottage and it boasts a large outdoor swimming pool that has a curved slide at the side

The property is called Pond Cottage and it boasts a large outdoor swimming pool that has a curved slide at the side

Inside the property, the entertainment facilities continue - with a cinema room that has black chairs and a red carpet

Inside the property, the entertainment facilities continue – with a cinema room that has black chairs and a red carpet

The most expensive house in our list of properties with swimming pools is this £1.1million home in Ramsgate, Kent.

It boasts more than an acre of land that includes a large outdoor swimming pool, a patio and a pool area.

The property is called Pond Cottage and it is being sold by Miles & Barr estate agents.

2. Five-bed semi-detached house, Welling, £625k

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front aspect

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front aspect

A slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house and it has been covered to protect it from the elements

A slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house and it has been covered to protect it from the elements

The Kent property is on the market with a price tag of £625,000 and the sale is being handled by estate agents MS Estates

The Kent property is on the market with a price tag of £625,000 and the sale is being handled by estate agents MS Estates

This semi-detached property in Welling, Kent, may not look like it can house a swimming pool from the front.

But a slimline swimming pool has been added to the rear of the house. It is on the market for £625,000 via MS Estates.

3. Five-bed house, Ripon, £450k

This three-bedroom house in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was once a barn and has been converted into a family home with a swimming pool

This three-bedroom house in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was once a barn and has been converted into a family home with a swimming pool

The curved shaped indoor swimming pool sits below wooden beams and has a separate bar area for entertaining

The curved shaped indoor swimming pool sits below wooden beams and has a separate bar area for entertaining

The barn conversion has a colourful interior and is on the market for £450,000 via Solo Property Management estate agents

The barn conversion has a colourful interior and is on the market for £450,000 via Solo Property Management estate agents

This three-bedroom barn conversion in Ripon, North Yorkshire, boasts an indoor swimming pool and bar area.

It is on the market with a price tag of £450,000 and the sale is being handled by Solo Property Management.

4. Three-bed house, Ashington, £190k

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools

The 1930s detached property has an indoor swimming pool that isn¿t currently being used because it has been left empty

The 1930s detached property has an indoor swimming pool that isn’t currently being used because it has been left empty

The three-bedroom property is currently for sale for £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents

The three-bedroom property is currently for sale for £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents

This three-bedroom house in Ashington, Northumberland, is the cheapest in our list of properties for sale with swimming pools.

It is a 1930s detached property with an indoor swimming pool that isn’t currently being used as it is empty.

The property is for sale for a relatively cheap £190,000 and is being sold via Rook Matthews Sayer estate agents.

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Barwood Homes invests in Woodville resi scheme (GB)

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Harworth Group plc has completed the sale of an eight-acre land parcel at Woodville, Derbyshire to Barwood Homes for the delivery of 73 new houses. This represents Harworth’s first transaction with the Northampton-based housebuilder. The land parcel forms part of a 53-acre regeneration site which is owned by Beepart Ltd, part of Dyson Group, the Sheffield-based former manufacturer of industrial materials. Harworth is promoting the site on its behalf through a Planning Promotion Agreement. In April 2022, South Derbyshire District Council granted outline consent for the creation of up to 300 homes on the site, in addition to a c.30,000ft² local center with convenience retail and leisure amenities and over 150,000ft² of employment space for a range of uses.

 

The wider site has been unlocked by the delivery of Derbyshire County Council’s Woodville to Swadlincote Regeneration Route, which opened to traffic in December 2021, providing better access to Swadlincote and traffic relief in Woodville, as well as improved connectivity across the site. Preparation works will commence shortly for the next phases of residential and employment land sales at the development.

 

Ed Catchpole, Regional Director for Yorkshire & Central at Harworth, commented: “This sale is a fantastic start to the development at Woodville and we are pleased to welcome Barwood Homes to the site, who will deliver high-quality new housing for the local community. Our focus is now on bringing forward the rest of the development, utilising our extensive experience in the remediation of complex sites, including earthworks and infrastructure, to ready the remaining residential and employment land.”

 

Luke Simmons, Managing Director of Barwood Homes, added: “We are delighted to be working alongside Harworth on this exciting development. The team is looking forward to engaging with the local community as we gear up to deliver a scheme of excellent quality in design, build and service.”

 

Gavin Rosson, Managing Director of Dyson Group, added: “This first sale of a residential portion of the site is an important step in unlocking the full development potential of the whole, something we have been trying to achieve for many years. Such development will help regenerate Woodville and the surrounding area, somewhere we have had a presence since 1967 and are delighted to participate in.”

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