Government wins landmark safety remediation court case

Building safety remediation - Street view of the Vista Tower in Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Vista Tower in Stevenage, Hertfordshire (Image: Google Street View)

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has won a landmark legal challenge against a freeholder that was delaying fixing building safety defects.

In October 2022, the government began legal action against Grey GR following “unacceptable delays” in fixing multiple serious fire safety issues in Vista Tower, Stevenage. The issues were first identified in 2019. 

Grey GR is a freeholder owned by pension fund Railpen.

Following the trial in March, the court has decided in favour of the government and will issue a remediation order imposing a legally binding requirement on Grey GR to fix building safety issues within a mandated timeframe. 

Following the commencement of legal action, Grey GR started work on Vista Tower in January 2024. The remediation order will provide an exact date by which the work must be completed or Grey could face sanction by the court.

The case is the first legal action brought by the government under powers introduced through the Building Safety Act 2022.

‘A warning to building owners’

Housing secretary Michael Gove said: “This court case should serve as a warning to all building owners. If you fail to fix your unsafe buildings and ensure the safety of residents, we will see you in court. We will not stop until we secure justice for leaseholders.”

DLUHC is also seeking remediation orders on five other Grey GR buildings that have or will be going to trial over the next year. They include The Chocolate Box in Bournemouth where, as a result of government legal action, Grey has now started remediation works.

The government has also already secured four remediation orders against freeholder Wallace Estates.

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