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Revealed: Mace's £100k-a-month post-Grenfell safety bill

Exclusive: Mace is paying around £100,000 a month to cover the cost of extra fire safety measures introduced following the discovery of Grenfell-style cladding on one of its London developments, Construction News can reveal.

CN has learned Mace is paying for a 24/7 fire patrol, or ’waking watch’, in one of the blocks at its £225m Greenwich Square project at a cost of around £100,000, although other parts of the development are unaffected.

The waking watch was installed at Greenwich Square following a London Fire Brigade inspection of the development in March, which concluded there was unsuitable cladding being used. 

The waking watch at Greenwich Square consists of eight inspectors patrolling the building to sound the alarm if a fire takes place.

Following the March visit, the fire brigade instructed Mace to take the extra precautionary measures with immediate effect or risk having residents moved out.

CN understands the cladding in question is category 3 ACM cladding, according to BRE testing.

Category 3 is the most combustible of the three ACM cladding types, described in government guidance as “having no flame-retardant properties”.

A spokesman for Mace said: “The safety of the residents of Greenwich Square is our number one priority, which is why we fully and immediately implemented the recommendations from the London Fire Brigade following their first visit to the site in March.

“Mace is paying for the recommended fire wardens on site and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.”

Residents have told CN that Mace has not informed them if it intends to remove the cladding, or if it will pay to have it done.

However, a Mace spokesman told CN  the business was awaiting a technical assessment of “remedial measures” required and that once details were confirmed, these measures would be carried out “as quickly as possible”.

In a letter sent to residents on Friday and seen by CN, the company said it was likely the facade of two of the blocks at the development would need remedial work.

The spokesman added: “We are in regular contact with our residents and appreciate that they understandably have some concerns.

“We can reassure them that the London Fire Brigade has visited the site a number of times and are satisfied with the evacuation measures that we have put in place. We will provide more clarity on the next steps as soon as possible.”

In 2012, a JV between Hadley and Mace won the deal to develop and deliver the £225m Greenwich Square project. Mace has since taken full control of Greenwich Square’s long leasehold.

The block also includes a number of flats that were bought by L&Q as part of a pre-sale deal agreed with Mace.

A spokesman for L&Q said: “As the long leaseholder of Greenwich Square, Mace is responsible for fire safety at the building and is covering the cost of the fire safety measures, including the waking watch.

“We will continue to work closely with Mace to ensure our residents’ safety whilst they await further guidance on any remedial works to the blocks that may be required.”

Who should pay for private re-cladding? Case studies

Citiscape, Croydon

Citiscape’s property management firm First Port was informed by the then Department for Communities and Local Government that the cladding on the Citiscape tower had failed combustibility tests and should be removed.

It was estimated that the cost of recladding could be between £1.8m and £2m. 

Unclear of who was liable to pay, First Port brought the case to tribunal in March, which ruled that in principle the leaseholders would be liable to pay for work through their yearly service charge.

Leaseholders in the block faced a total bill of £31,000 each to cover the cost of recladding.

Barratt, the original developer of the building, agreed to foot the bill for recladding work a month later.

The company said: “After the ruling that recladding costs would fall on individual owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided we will pay for all forward work.”

Capital Quay, Greenwich

With more than 1,000 homes, the Capital Quay development near Greenwich town centre is thought to be the biggest private block facing cladding issues.

Following tests post-Grenfell, it was found the majority of cladding used on the development was combustible and needed to be removed.

Developer Galliard Homes agreed that the cladding needed to be replaced but wanted NHBC to pay for it as insurer of the scheme.

Galliard believes that NHBC, which signed off the development through its building control arm and provided leaseholders with 10-year warranties, should bear the costs.

NHBC brought in an independent expert to assess the claims.

Reports suggest that remediation work could cost leaseholders £40,000 each if it is ruled that they are liable for the costs.

The Guardian reported that Galliard had lodged a claim in the High Court against NHBC, with NHBC intending to defend it.

A waking watch is currently used on the development.

Blenheim Centre, Hounslow

Situated above the Blenheim shopping centre in Hounslow, this 350-flat development was found to be clad in unsuitable materials.

Built by Barratt but owned by Legal & General, replacing the cladding could cost flatowners between £20,000 and £30,000 each.

After a campaign by the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, Legal & General decided to pick up the multi-million-pound recladding bill in what it called a “gesture of goodwill” to residents.

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