Chelmsford Council leader calls for stronger action on cladding scandal

February 17, 2021 9:41 AM

Stephen RobinsonThe Government is being asked to fully fix the scandal of possibly dangerous cladding on certain taller buildings. The leader of Chelmsford City Council, Liberal Democrat Stephen Robinson, has told the Minister that many flat-owners in Chelmsford are unable to move home because mortgage companies will not lend.

Cllr Robinson has called on the Government to support flat-owners who are left struggling through no fault of their own. The text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr Jenrick

I am writing to you on behalf of Chelmsford residents regarding cladding on residential buildings. I welcome your announcement that acknowledged the difficulty that those homeowners who live in properties that have cladding are experiencing. However, I felt that it was important to provide you with the views of Chelmsford residents, as we do not feel that your proposals go far enough.

We are aware that buildings under 18 metres in height to the top floor are not yet impacted by the requirement to remove cladding or take remedial action to make them safe. However, some lenders are still requiring a completed EWS1 form to be provided to gain mortgage finance.

In Chelmsford, there are many properties that are adversely affected by this situation. We have, in particular, four developments of flats that fall below the 18-metre height limit where residents have already contacted us. Our residents have raised concerns on a number of aspects, and I want to appraise you of their situation.

Firstly, those wishing to move home are being told that mortgage lenders are refusing to grant mortgages to potential purchasers, due to the cladding on their properties. This is effectively making their homes unsellable, leaving residents feeling trapped in buildings that are deemed unsafe by mortgage lenders.

Secondly, many residents are facing significant increases in their service charges, as insurance premiums soar, because insurance companies deem cladding to be a high risk. This has left many residents facing financial hardship.

Finally, in some developments, residents are having to pay for a fire watch at night and these costs in some instances are almost as high as the residents' mortgage.

I'm sure that you will appreciate this is putting a tremendous strain on residents, both in terms of their mental health and their finances, at a time when there is already significant uncertainty in all our lives.

I hope that you will review this situation and consider what additional support the Government can give to our residents. I realise that public funds are very tight, but it is wholly unfair to expect our residents to meet the cost of remediation. I therefore look forward to receiving your views as to how this can be addressed.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Stephen Robinson
Leader of the Council