Anger has erupted in Manchester after Australian building group Lendlease was awarded a £330 million contract to refurbish the city hall – while declining to help remove Grenfell cladding from its private sites in the city.
Lendlease refuses to contribute to remove cladding at two sites in Green Quarter, Vallea Court and Cypress Place which failed fire safety checks in July 2017.
This means the leaseholders at the 345 flats are left facing bills of £3 million.
The government talked tough about Lendlease last year, with very little result to date:
Lendlease, as developer of Manchester’s Green Quarter, used Grenfell-style aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on the Vallea Court and Cypress Place towers, which were completed in 2013. As it sold the freehold to Pemberstone in 2015, Lendlease says it is not liable.
Ground rent speculator Pemberstone, which bought the freeholds in 2015, won a property tribunal hearing establishing that the leaseholders – many of them former Lendlease customers – pick up the tab.
Manchester City Council has chosen Lendlease to deliver the transformation of the city’s town hall, ahead of rival bidder Laing O’Rourke, in a deal worth around £160m. The project, which has a full budget of £330m, will see the grade one-listed building fully restored along with extensive, improved public realm around Albert Square.
Manchester’s LibDem opposition leader John Leech told councillors last October that “under absolutely no circumstances” should Lendlease be considered for a Council Contract until it paid the £3m cladding bill.
“The fact we even considered awarding a contract worth more than a quarter of a billion pounds to a firm that has treated Manchester residents so appallingly shows just what little regard this council has for local people. ”Now that Lendlease has been given this huge contract regardless of how badly they have treated local people, Manchester Council must insist that they pay the £3m Green Quarter cladding bill that is crippling local people and end this disgraceful saga once and for all.”
The construction contract to refurbish the Town Hall is thought to be worth around £190m and will see the grade one-listed building fully restored along with extensive, improved public realm. Works will include restoring the Great Hall and its Ford Madox Brown murals, along with external repairs to the roof, stonework and drains.
According to the LibDems, Lendlease wrote to flat owners when they purchased that “Lendlease will undertake, at our expense, to complete any accepted defect that has arisen as a result of either faulty materials or defective workmanship.”
But a spokesperson for Lendlease is quoted saying: “Shepherd’s Construction, were responsible for the design and build of Vallea Court and Cyprus Place, and the current owner of the building is Pemberstone Ltd.”
Lendlease, which built towers with flammable cladding, bidding for £190m project