Our Meeting with Vistry Group – April 2024

On 5th April, we met Vistry Group to discuss their progress with making homes safe and how they can support leaseholders and residents through this process. The group has identified 327 buildings for fire safety remediation works so it has one of the largest programmes in the industry. Based on information from the published accounts of the 45 leading developers in the Responsible Actors Scheme, Vistry accounts for just under £1 in every £10 that is expected to be spent on fire safety remediation works across the country.

The group currently has £276m set aside on its balance sheet for fire safety remediation works (excluding £13m which is in relation to second staircase requirements on committed sites) and spent £33m on remediation during 2023. 

In January 2020, Bovis Homes acquired Galliford Try’s housing business, which included Linden Homes, to form the Vistry Group. More recently the group acquired Countryside Homes in November 2022 – and it has previously stated that a significant share of its expected remediation spend, over 60%, relates to buildings developed by Countryside

We met with Alexander Cook and David Evans, both directors with responsibility for group special projects. Alex had joined from Countryside when that business was acquired, while David’s background is with the Vistry Group. We heard that the dedicated building safety team had formed in its current guise in early 2023, around the time the company signed the government’s developer contract, although both directors have been engaged with building safety projects from an earlier stage. They described themselves as having a “hands-on approach, very open” and wanted to assure us that there is a significant focus on this issue within the business, with the Chief Executive and PLC Board keen to see that progress is made.

We discussed a wide range of topics which you can read about in our full report. In summary, 

• The assessment programme is almost complete for buildings in scope of the developer contract, but only 30% of works have started on site. 

• Only one third of buildings that the Group will remediate are in scope of the developer contract

• Where developers acted as contractors, those buildings are not covered by the Developer Remediation Contract terms – for example, at Petworth Court in Wembley, where there was a fire in January 2024. 

• “Meaningful starts” took place on four projects to try to beat long delays feared for building control approval under the new Building Safety Regulator. 

• Vistry advised us that they had been the first major developer to navigate an agreement with the large freeholder agent, Estates & Management (E&M). 

• Vistry is communicating with DLUHC ministers on the issue of insurers either not understanding or accepting the PAS 9980 standard of remediation. 

• Vistry is investigating a handful of under 11 metre buildings at a development in Essex to determine if remedial work is needed, but they would not come under the same Self-Remediation Terms as taller buildings. 

• Vistry reportedly no longer hears of any difficulties with mortgage lending on affected properties. 

• Leaseholders had scored communication as 1.4 out of 10 in our survey 6 months ago, but Vistry highlighted improvements in communication over recent months.

Read the full report on our meeting with Vistry Group here

Are you a leaseholder or resident in a Vistry Group building, having issues in relation to assessment or remediation – and unable to get a satisfactory response via your managing agent? Please email the developer directly at [email protected] and copy us at [email protected] if you would like us to be aware of the issues being raised and to follow up if needed.  

If you need to escalate your concerns to DLUHC, please email [email protected], providing the name and address of your building together with a short summary of your concerns, and detailing the attempts you have made to contact the developer. Please copy our team at [email protected] so that we can follow up where necessary.

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