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Delays to replace cladding at council flats in Llandaff North as costs double

Works to replace cladding at council flats in Llandaff North will be delayed as forecasted costs are expected to double.

Lydstep Flats were found to have flammable cladding in March 2018. The cladding was removed in December that year.

But residents living in the three high rise blocks of flats are still waiting for replacement cladding to be installed, and now could be waiting until 2023 according to Cardiff council.

Works to replace the cladding were predicted to cost the council £7.4 million, but this has now increased to £15.1 million due to “significant inflationary pressures”.

Details of the delays and doubling costs were revealed in a report to the council’s cabinet, which will meet on Thursday, September 23 to sign off the works.

The cabinet report said: “The original indicative cost plan was £7,408,289 for the three blocks at Lydstep Flats. However, following the stage one scoping and review stage, and that the full requirements of the works are known, the updated cost plan is £15,109,023.

“The greatest part of the increase in cost is due to the very significant inflationary pressures that have been experienced over the course of the project. These pressures are a result of a number of factors, including Brexit.

“It has been reported that material costs have been increasing at a rate of five per cent to 10 per cent a month for some producers, and a 20 per cent increase in labour costs has also been experienced.”

An appendix explaining the detailed reasons behind the increasing costs has been kept confidential and was not published.

The council is planning to install a ceramic brick-based cladding on Lydstep Flats. While each part of the cladding system is non-combustible, new building regulations brought in last December means the whole cladding system must be tested together before installation.

High demand for fire testing means the earliest slot the council could book was last month, according to the cabinet report. A full report on the results of the test might not be available for another six months. However, the replacement works could go ahead before then.

But it is still unclear when works on site will actually begin. The cabinet report said they will likely take until early 2023 to complete, which means residents would have waited five years since flammable cladding was first found on their flats.

It is also unclear when works will begin to replace cladding on Loudon House and Nelson House in Butetown.

A council spokesperson said: “The council’s communities and adult services scrutiny committee is set to review the council’s recommendations for Lydstep Flats before the report goes to cabinet for a decision on Thursday, September 23.

“Cardiff council acted quickly to remove the cladding from these high-rise blocks after the Grenfell tragedy and our tenants’ welfare has always been our primary concern.

“The decision to replace the cladding on our high rises was agreed in April 2020, but changes to building regulations and new rules on fire-safety, test requirements, delayed works beyond our control.

“The effects of the pandemic and Brexit have since played a major role in pushing costs up. A separate report on Loudoun House and Nelson House will be brought to cabinet later in the year.”

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