Taylor Wimpey sets aside £125m for fire safety improvements

Artist’s impression of Taylor Wimpey’s Shornecliffe Heights development in Folkestone

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has set aside £125m to fund fire safety improvements for leaseholders of apartment buildings it has constructed over the past 20 years.

The company announced the move as part of its annual results, published today (2 March).

Taylor Wimpey said it had already made a £40m provision to replace ACM cladding on high-rise buildings it had constructed following the Grenfell Tower disaster, and has now completed work on 12 of 19 of those buildings.

However, it acknowledged that updates to regulation and advice on the issue of fire safety had widened the number of apartment buildings under the scope of review to include those under 18m high and with other forms of cladding.

In January 2021, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) issued guidance for public consultation to improve consistency in EWS1 (external wall fire review) requests and in February this year, the government made fire safety improvement requirements clearer, which Taylor Wimpey said had enabled it to “focus on resolving issues for leaseholders using EWS1 forms as an independent framework”.

The £125m set aside by Taylor Wimpey will fund the improvement of buildings regardless of their eligibility for the UK government Building Safety Fund, including apartments under 18m.

Taylor Wimpey said: “If Taylor Wimpey no longer owns the building and it is not eligible for the Building Safety Fund, or similar support that may be announced in the future, where a freeholder produces a fair and proportionate plan for fire safety improvement works following EWS1 assessment, we will contribute funding to assist freeholders in bringing those buildings up to the standards required by EWS1 assessment.

“We have identified 232 apartment buildings that may require fire safety works under EWS1 requirements. We expect building owners to contact Taylor Wimpey following completion of the required EWS1 assessment on the relevant apartment buildings they own. If the apartment building is eligible for the UK government’s Building Safety Fund, we would expect building owners to apply for this funding, which is expected to be partly funded by an industry levy.”

The announcement came as Taylor Wimpey announced a 67% fall in profit before tax and exceptional items to £274.4m for the year to 31 December 2020. Revenue was down 36% to £2.8bn.

Pete Redfern, chief executive, said: “2020 was a very challenging year, during which our priority has continued to be the health and safety of our colleagues, customers, suppliers and subcontractors. Operating performance has bounced back strongly in the second half of 2020, with build capacity returning to near normal levels and strong sales. We are confident in the medium-term performance of the housing market and therefore accelerated our land purchases from May 2020 as high-quality land became available at attractive rates.”

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