Newham Council has become the first local authority (LA) in Britain to prosecute a building owner for failing to remove dangerous cladding.
City of London Magistrates’ Court ruled on Wednesday 18 October Chaplair Ltd had failed to meet a deadline to remove flammable material from its Lumiere building on Romford Road in London.
The council pursued legal action after the building owner failed to act by 31 March 2021 imposed in an Improvement Notice issued in September 2020.
“Six years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, today’s decision by the court symbolises a landmark ruling in our fight to raise standards and hold building owners to account in Newham,” said Rokhsana Fiaz, mayor of Newham.
Adding: “It will also help authorities across the country to safeguard the interests of their residents using the powers available under vital housing legislation.”
Works eventually began in May 2021 with the cladding removed by February 2022.
In court the council argued there was no reasonable excuse for the delay.
The case will return for sentencing on 31 October at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
The verdict is a milestone for the council’s Cladding Action campaign which pressures building owners and responsible parties to urgently complete all fire safety works required, including removing outstanding and unsafe ACM cladding.
In his ruling, deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram wrote: “The prosecution have satisfied me so that I am sure that a valid Improvement Notice was served and the defendant company did not carry out the required remedial works relating to the external facades within the required period.
“The defendants have failed to satisfy me that they have reasonable excuse in failing to comply with the Improvement Notice. I therefore find Chaplair Ltd guilty of the offence.”
Mayor Fiaz added: “This monumental ruling sends a clear warning to all building owners operating in Newham that they must act swiftly in the interest of our residents’ safety first and always, otherwise we will take decisive action against you.”
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