Out-Law News 1 min. read

Shortage of expertise could hamper Scottish Safer Buildings Accord

new houses and high rise flats in edinburgh seo

A relative lack of construction industry expertise could hamper the Scottish government’s efforts to retrofit buildings that have unsafe cladding, according to one legal expert.

The warning comes after Paul McLennan, Scotland’s housing minister, confirmed last week that an agreement in principle had been reached on the Scottish Safer Buildings Accord with Homes for Scotland – the body for housing developers – and a number of its largest members.

Under the agreement, developers will be expected to fund works to address safety issues identified at properties that they built. Public funding will be prioritised for buildings that are not linked to an existing developer. Katherine Metcalfe of Pinsent Masons said that, while reaching agreement in principle is a significant milestone, there was “a lot to do” before remedial work can start.

She added: “The process of agreeing a contract has been protracted and challenging in England and, even once the contract has been agreed, there is a relative shortage of the expertise required to carry out works of the sort envisaged by the scheme, particularly in Scotland. It is also notable that the Accord relates only to cladding. The equivalent scheme in England applies to a much wider range of internal and external fire safety issues.”

Negotiations will now begin on the long form legally-binding contract to support the remediation of developer-linked buildings with unsafe cladding in Scotland. The Scottish government said it was continuing to engage with large developers to address outstanding technical questions over the agreement, and that ministers would hold further discussions with small-and medium-sized developers on their re-cladding responsibilities in future.

The Scottish government added that it will continue to explore legislative options to safeguard residents and homeowners in the event that developers do not voluntarily address unsafe cladding at properties they built.

Last month, proposals for the third set of changes to fire safety standards for cladding in Scotland since the Grenfell Tower fire were laid before the Scottish parliament. The new legislation would ban combustible cladding on high-rise buildings, as well as the highest risk metal composite cladding material from all buildings.

We are processing your request. \n Thank you for your patience. An error occurred. This could be due to inactivity on the page - please try again.