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Cladding safety assessment programme for high-rise properties to be expanded

The Single Building Assessment includes the examination of a site’s fire safety (PA)
The Single Building Assessment includes the examination of a site’s fire safety (PA)

The Scottish Government’s cladding assessment programme for high-rise buildings is to be expanded.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison gave an update on the Government’s efforts to remediate unsafe cladding on Thursday.

She told MSPs that housing developers across the country will be working with the Government to ensure properties are safe.

Following a pilot launched in 2021, the Single Building Assessment (SBA) programme will be expanded to include a further 80 buildings which had submitted interest last year.

Those blocks will be written to from Thursday, she said, with the ambition of more than 100 high-rise towers in total being part of the scheme from 2023.

SBAs are a “comprehensive inspection” of blocks of domestic residential buildings, which examine fire safety and suitability for mortgage lending.

Shona Robison
Housing Secretary Shona Robison announced the expansion on Thursday (Jane Barlow/PA)

They identify what needs to be remediated on a building-by-building basis, in line with the most up-to-date building standards.

“The Grenfell Tower tragedy shocked us all,” Ms Robison told the chamber. “It highlighted that many could be living in buildings that pose a clear risk to their safety.

“That risk was never commonly understood by developers, lenders, building insurance firms and even surveyors and fire engineers.”

A new streamlined process for commissioning the assessments will help identify at-risk buildings more quickly, she said.

Ms Robison said “every penny” of the £97.1 million received in consequentials for 2021/22, as well as any additional funding, will be invested into assessing buildings and ensuring they are of a safe standard.

She added that she expects the “vast majority” of buildings to be found to be safe.

Ms Robison said: “This is the next big step towards addressing the cladding crisis in Scotland.

Grenfell Tower
The Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives in 2017 spread through the cladding (Steve Parsons/PA)

“While I know this has been a stressful and frustrating time for affected homeowners, it has been vital that we take the time to understand this incredibly complex issue so we can now start to address it.

“Let me reassure homeowners again that we expect the vast majority of buildings to be safe.

“This is a problem Government can’t fix alone, and I look forward to working collaboratively and at pace with developers and homeowners to fix buildings affected by dangerous cladding.”

The Scottish Government has developed the Scottish Safer Buildings Accord alongside Homes for Scotland – a membership body for housing developers – as well as homeowners and other key partner organisations.

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, said: “I am pleased to confirm that Homes for Scotland has agreed to work with its members and Scottish Government to develop an accord which will include the broader sector in time, reflecting the responsibilities of all parties involved in the design, construction and inspection of buildings.”