AN END to the long-running legal dispute to claw back costs for removing dangerous Grenfell-esque cladding on an apartment block is on the horizon.

Slough Borough Council is set to recover “very significant,” if not all, of the costs to make the seven-storey Nova House in Buckingham Garden safe, a meeting has heard.

The cladding was removed after it failed two flammability tests.

In a response to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, which killed dozens due to unsafe cladding, the local authority intervened and bought the shares of the owner of a converted office block, Ground Rent Estate 5 Limited (GRE5), in 2018 for £1.

Initially, costs to replace the flammable cladding and other works were meant to be under £10m but the price has now spiked to nearly £20m due to Covid-19 and surveyors unearthing more defects and technical issues at the block, which holds 68 flats.

READ MORE: Slough's Nova House safety works will hit £19.6m

The council agreed to loan £10.3m to make the building safe. A grant from Homes England provided the remaining £9.3m.

GRE5 and the leaseholders are currently engaged in legal proceedings with Alliance, the insurance-backed warranty provider for the building, to claw back some of the costs.

Pat Hayes, executive director for property, said it was “probably not the wisest of investments” the council made but strongly believed the local authority will be able to get out of the situation with most, if not all, of the costs paid back.

He said at the place overview and scrutiny meeting: “We have a very significant insurance claim. The contractor who did the cladding work has at least partially accepted the claim already, so we have sort of halfway won on that.

READ MORE: "Unlikely" for Slough Council to recover costs to remove Grenfell cladding


“It will either go to a court hearing in the summer or will go through arbitration before that. So, I think the council will recover very significant, if not all, of its costs on Nova House because of the acceptance of fault by the contractor.

“There’s ongoing expenditure and interestingly the loan has been paid back from GRE5 to the council. So, it’s not all bad news.”

Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab: Britwell & Northborough), lead member for financial oversight, said he objected to the council’s intervention at the time, adding enforcement action should have been taken instead as the risk of liability was too great.

Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, January 19, he added: “It was not something I agreed with, but we are where we are, and like some of the other things, we’re trying to extricate ourselves to the best that we can out of that.”