Firm confirms ‘developer pledge’ will see housebuilders repair blocks going back 30 years

Persimmon has become the second major housebuilder to announce it has signed the proposed cladding pledge negotiated with housing secretary Michael Gove as a central part of his strategy to address the fire safety crisis.

The £3.6bn-turnover builder’s announcement followed hot on the heels of Crest Nicholson, which this morning said it intended to sign the pledge, details of which are expected to be officially unveiled by the government as soon as tomorrow.

Persimmon’s statement confirmed publicly for the first time the terms of the pledge, first revealed by Building’s sister title Housing Today on Thursday.

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Persimmon has historically built low-rise housing and said it expected last year’s provision of £75m for the remedial works to remain the same

It said the pledge will commit housebuilders to remediate all buildings they have built over 11m in height with fire safety problems, going back 30 years, without recourse to the government’s Building Safety Fund.

Persimmon’s statement came as separate housebuilding industry sources said an announcement from government on the pledge was likely to come tomorrow, with the final wording having been agreed with the HBF and handed to housebuilders’ boards to consider in the last few days.

Individual housebuilders will need to decide whether or not to sign the pledge, with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) thought likely to include names of housebuilder signatories on any announcement.

Housing secretary Michael Gove has threatened to stop housebuilders that don’t behave responsibly over the cladding issue from trading and has tabled amendments to the Building Safety Bill which will prevent developers from getting planning permission or building regs approvals.

Persimmon said the pledge was “consistent with the approach already announced by Persimmon in February 2021” and that it wouldn’t need to make any further financial provision following signing up to the commitments in the pledge.

This puts it in stark contrast with Crest Nicholson, which this morning said it expected to have to spend between £80m and £120m more on fire safety repairs to historic buildings than previously provisioned for, following the signing of the pledge.

Last year Persimmon, which has historically mainly built low-rise housing, made a provision of £75m for fire safety repairs and said this morning “we continue to believe that the £75 million provision set aside for the rectification works remains appropriate”. It had already said it did not intend to make any claims from the government’s Building Safety Fund.

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Dean Finch, Persimmon group chief executive, said: “Over a year ago we said that leaseholders in multi-storey buildings Persimmon constructed should not have to pay for the remediation of cladding and fire related issues. We are pleased to reaffirm this commitment today and sign the Government’s Developer Pledge.

“We made this commitment last year as we believed it was not only fair for leaseholders but also the right thing to do as one of the country’s leading homebuilders. We are pleased that we were able to work constructively with the Government to secure this agreement.”

Persimmon added that the Developer Pledge committed developers specifically to: “Address life-critical fire-safety issues on all buildings of 11 metres and above in England developed by the Group in the 30 years prior to 5 April 2022”; and, “not to claim any funds from the Government’s Building Safety Fund”.

DLUHC has been contacted for comment.