While Persimmon mainly builds traditional family homes rather than high-rise blocks, it has identified 26 tall buildings that may need to be reclad.
Chairman Roger Devlin said: “The concern around now banned cladding is affecting many thousands of homeowners who live in high-rise buildings right across the country.
“At Persimmon we believe we have a clear duty to act to address this issue. So today we are setting aside £75m towards any necessary cladding remediation and safety work in 26 developments we built. Where we still own the building we will act. Where we no longer own them we will work with the owners to make sure they meet their legal responsibilities and duty. If the owner does not step up then we will act to remove uncertainty and anxiety for residents and make the buildings safe.
“This is a decision which we believe is not only right for residents but also the right thing for us to do as one of the leading housebuilders in the UK. We want Persimmon to be a business with a long-term, responsible and sustainable future and hope our actions today demonstrate a clear commitment to these values.”
The Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017, which killed 71 residents, revealed the inherent dangers of a widely-used composite core cladding system when fitted to high-rise buildings. It resulted in a national programme of cladding replacement but progress has been slow, especially in the private sector, amid arguments about liability.
Persimmon has identified nine high-rise buildings over 18 metres that it built where, in-line with government guidance, cladding may need to be removed. Persimmon does not own any of these buildings and the legal responsibility and duty to ensure the building is safe rests with the current owners, it said. However, it is ready to pay for the work if no one else will, the company said.
“Persimmon will provide technical support to ensure the building is made safe. However, if a building owner fails to step up and accept their responsibilities, Persimmon stands ready to provide the support necessary to make sure the work is done.”
Persimmon has also identified 17 buildings below the 18 metres threshold “that may be fitted with cladding requiring detailed investigation”.
Persimmon is now writing to building owners and management companies to inform them of the findings of its review and to agree next steps.
In December 2019 Persimmon published an internal review of its shortcomings as a builder, exposing a nationwide problem of missing and/or incorrectly installed cavity barriers in its timber frame properties.[See our previous report, Persimmon faces up to its failings].
Chairman Roger Devlin said at the launch of that review: “Persimmon is committed to listening carefully and changing rapidly as we seek to improve our reputation among the key stakeholders in the business.”