As of 6 June 2023, eight companies have signed the Scottish Safer Buildings Accord's ("SSBA")- "developer commitment letter". The commitment concerns multi-residential domestic buildings over 11 metres ("Buildings") which were developed or refurbished by them in the 30 years preceding 1 June 2022 in Scotland.
The "wave one" developers commitment relates to the remediation of life critical fire safety works in relevant buildings. SSBA sought a collaborative approach from developers to ensure that there are no Buildings in Scotland with "high-risk external wall cladding systems". Signatories publicly recognise that homeowners should not bear the cost of remedial work for Buildings which they developed or refurbished. They pledged to work:
"in good faith with the Scottish Government to establish remediation contracts, funding proposals, timeframes and communication plans to progress the remediation."
On 2 June 2023, the Scottish Government released a statement indicating support for the letter was garnered following consultations with the developers, Scottish Government and Homes for Scotland. Broadley, two stages in this remediation process have been identified:
- First, the use of a Single Building Assessment, to ensure a transparent and uniform approach to the evaluation of relevant Buildings.
- Second, agree the terms of a binding contract with developers which: (1) reflects the SSBA's principles; and (2) engages with the proprietors of affected Buildings.
The commitment letter itself does not constitute a legally binding document. However, it does provide a next step for developers which is to identify Buildings which will become subject of the Single Building Assessment.
The statements terminology particularly the use of the word "wave" is significant, as the Scottish Government's initial focus was obtaining the cooperation and signature of developers operating throughout the UK that have also signed the UK Government Pledge. However, this will shift in "wave two" with a more Scottish centric scope aiming at developers and SME's not subject to the "wave one" appeals.
Whilst the SSBA is based on a voluntary collaborative approach from developers, as with the UK Government pledge, this is set against a background of forced cooperation. On 18 May 2023 speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Hamza Yousaf, First Minister of Scotland stated:
"While I urge [developers] to do so voluntarily, we will use all the levers at our disposal including legislation if necessary, to remediate buildings and to protect residents.".
Ultimately, it appears that developers in Scotland are likely to face the same pressures to to "do the right thing", and work to remediate issues around fire safety in relevant buildings built over the last three decades.
For further information on matters relating to the Building Safety Act and Fire Safety in general please see our Building & Fire Safety Hub.