The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities secures a significant legal victory against Grey GR, owned by Railpen, compelling the rectification of critical building safety issues at Vista Tower. This landmark ruling under the Building Safety Act reinforces the government's commitment to ensuring the safety and security of residents nationwide.

14 May 2024

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has achieved a milestone legal win against freeholder Grey GR, owned by Railpen, in a decisive move to address pressing building safety concerns at Vista Tower in Stevenage.

Following prolonged delays in rectifying numerous critical fire safety issues initially identified in 2019, the Government initiated legal proceedings against Grey GR in October 2022. These actions underscore the government's unwavering dedication to prioritising the safety and well-being of residents.

After an extensive trial in March, the Court ruled in favour of the Government, issuing a Remediation Order that imposes a legally binding obligation on Grey GR to address the building safety deficiencies within a stipulated timeframe. This ruling provides much-needed reassurance to residents of Vista Tower, affirming their right to reside in safe and secure homes without further delay.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove emphasised the significance of this ruling, stating, "leaseholders have lived with uncertainty for far too long while Grey GR delayed essential works to make homes safe. This decision is a victory for leaseholders in Vista Tower and across the country."

Expressing disappointment at Railpen's handling of the situation, Secretary Gove highlighted the importance of accountability, asserting that both railway workers and affected leaseholders deserve better treatment.

Sophie Bichener, a leaseholder at Vista Tower, welcomed the Remediation Order, acknowledging its profound impact on residents' lives. Bichener expressed gratitude to the Secretary of State for his intervention, hopeful that their involvement in this case would inspire hope among others awaiting similar resolutions.

This legal action represents the first implementation of robust measures introduced through the Building Safety Act 2022. With Grey GR commencing remedial works at Vista Tower in January 2024, the Remediation Order ensures timely completion under the oversight of the Court, mitigating the risk of further delays.

Moreover, the Government's proactive stance extends beyond Vista Tower, with ongoing efforts to secure remediation orders for five additional Grey GR buildings slated for trial in the coming year. Notably, The Chocolate Box in Bournemouth has already commenced remedial works following government intervention, benefiting from decisive legal action.

Furthermore, the Government has successfully obtained four remediation orders against freeholder Wallace Estates, offering relief to approximately 400 leaseholders confronted with remediation delays.

Under the provisions of the Building Safety Act, councils, fire and rescue services, and the Building Safety Regulator wield enforcement powers to hold building owners accountable for fulfilling their obligations and safeguarding the interests of leaseholders.

The Government's resolute commitment to upholding building safety standards underscores its determination to protect residents and ensure the accountability of building owners across the country.

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