The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has won a landmark legal challenge against freeholder Grey GR forcing it to fix serious building safety issues in Vista Tower in Stevenage.

Legal action was launched by the Government against Grey GR in October 2022 following unacceptable delays in fixing multiple serious fire safety issues, first identified in the building in 2019.

Grey GR is ultimately owned by Railpen, a scheme that manages £34bn in assets.

Following the trial in March, the Court has decided in favour of the Government and will issue a Remediation Order imposing a legally binding requirement on Grey GR to fix building safety issues within a mandated timeframe.

 Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “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.

“It is hugely disappointing that Railpen – the ultimate owner of Grey GR and who manage £34bn in ‘assets’ – has kept leaseholders in limbo in this way. Railway workers with their pensions invested in this fund, as well as innocent leaseholders, deserve better.

“This court case should serve as a warning to all building owners. If you fail to fix your unsafe buildings and ensure the safety of residents, we will see you in court. We will not stop until we secure justice for leaseholders.”

Sophie Bichener, leaseholder in Vista Tower said: “I am very pleased to see this remediation order has been made. This gives leaseholders the reassurance we deserve and is the closest we have been to regaining our freedom after what has been an extremely difficult few years.

“We thank the Secretary of State for bringing this remediation order – it will have a huge impact on our lives and we hope our involvement in this case will bring hope to many others who are waiting for their freeholders to do the right thing and make their homes a safe place to live too.”

The Vista Tower case was the first legal action brought by the Government under robust new powers introduced through the Building Safety Act 2022.

Following commencement of legal action, Grey started work on Vista Tower in January 2024. The Remediation Order will provide an exact date by which the work must be completed or Grey could face sanction by the Court.

The Government is also seeking remediation orders on a further five Grey GR buildings that have or will be going to trial over the next year. This includes The Chocolate Box in Bournemouth where, as a result of government legal action, Grey has now started remediation works.

The Government has also already secured four remediation orders against freeholder Wallace Estates, benefitting approximately 400 leaseholders that had faced delays to remediation.

Councils, fire and rescue services and the Building Safety Regulator all have powers under the Building Safety Act to take enforcement action against building owners not complying with their obligations and discharging their responsibilities to leaseholders.