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UK urges developers to pay more for safety after fire tragedy

The UK government has directed developers to do more to remove flammable cladding from residential buildings as part of the revised plans to be..

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UK urges developers to pay more for safety after fire tragedy

The UK government has directed developers to do more to remove flammable cladding from residential buildings as part of the revised plans to be unveiled on the Monday after the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove wants the industry to raise an estimated £ 4 billion ($ 5.4 billion) to cover the cost of removing dangerous cladding from 11 to 18 meter tall residential buildings.



It marks a U-turn in heavily criticized plans announced earlier last year that would have asked homeowners with unsafe material on their properties to get access to a soft loan program to pay for moving costs.

The government would also have contributed billions.

The new proposals come after more than four years of inactivity and grappling with the real estate industry following the June 2017 high-rise fire in West London that killed 72 people.

An official report has blamed the 24-story block’s flammable cladding as the “main reason” for the fire to spread, while a public inquiry into the tragedy is ongoing.

Grenfell was the UK’s deadliest house fire since World War II, leaving thousands of tenants of apartments in other buildings in dangerous situations and unable to afford to have the paneling removed.

They also faced other rising costs, from increased insurance premiums to partial payment for fire department patrols around the clock.

Most of them have since been unable to sell or rent their apartments because the mortgage lenders refused to borrow money or other restrictions resulted.

In a letter to the industry published on Monday, Gove called on developers and other companies involved to submit a “fully funded action plan” to resolve their situation by “early March”.

The minister, who took over housing construction last September, warned that he was “ready to take all necessary steps” to repair the “broken system”.

“We now need to make sure that everyone in development and construction product manufacturing who has a responsibility comes to the fore,” Gove told BBC radio before unveiling the plans in Parliament.

He added that the government was guided by three principles.

“Firstly, the lessee should not pay, secondly, the polluter should pay in the broadest sense, and thirdly, we want to work with everyone involved on a constructive solution.”

Gove noted that companies involved could be prevented from receiving future government and other contracts if they refuse to comply.

He cited the case of the Irish company Kingspan, whose products were used in Grenfell Tower and last month a sponsorship deal with Formula 1 team Mercedes was canceled because of its links to the disaster.

The connection had caused an uproar among Grenfell support groups, with Mercedes star driver Lewis Hamilton even being drawn into the controversy.

“I intervened, I spoke to (Mercedes F1 boss) Toto Wolff at Mercedes,” said Gove on Monday.

“He appreciated it, not least because of Lewis Hamilton’s own sympathy for the Grenfell United community, and that’s how this contract ended.”