Government review moots new public body for building remediation

A government-commissioned review has floated the creation a new body for transforming existing buildings – to oversee cladding work, retrofitting and decent homes standards.

A regular review into the effectiveness of Homes England, which recommended that it transfer its current building safety responsibilities elsewhere, suggested a new cross-departmental body might fill the gap.

The report said: “One option, in time, may be to establish a new public body for building remediation, tasked with creating and delivering a plan for transforming existing buildings to meet a range of objectives across safety, energy and quality matters.”

Another option would be for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to contract directly with the private sector to address these responsibilities within its own remit, the review said.

It noted the task of improving non-decent homes and delivering retrofits in line with 2050 net-zero commitments would likely require a “well-coordinated approach for decades”, and had become too big to be led by a housing supply and regeneration organisation.

Homes England currently delivers the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS), which allocates funding to remediate unsafe cladding on buildings between 11 and 18 metres high.

The review said that while Homes England was the only agency initially “realistically able to to support” the government’s cladding remediation programme, the work does not directly align with the agency’s core function of delivering new housing and regenerating areas.

The Building Safety Regulator, set up after the Grenfell Tower fire, is currently responsible for assessing the safety risks of occupied residential buildings over 18 metres.

The review, led by former PwC partner Tony Poulter, also recommended that Homes England takes more economic risk, and proposed more funding to allow the body to commit to large, long-term housing schemes.

The review was conducted as part of a government programme to regularly review the effectiveness of its arm’s length bodies (ALBs). Homes England is an ALB of the DLUHC.

The report was published yesterday (8 April), the same day that Homes England launched its Building Remediation Hub, an online portal for applying to the CSS and Building Safety Fund, a separate grant scheme overseen by DLUHC.

DLUHC and Homes England have been contacted for comment.

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