New fire safety planning requirements come into force

by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Property Industry Eye

New fire safety planning requirements came into effect yesterday for relevant developments involving high-rise residential buildings. The new requirements, known as planning gateway one, are designed to ensure that high-rise developments consider fire safety at the earliest stages of planning. Developments involving high-rise residential buildings must demonstrate they have been designed with fire safety in mind before planning permission is granted – including through their site layout – and with access provided for fire engines. This information will be submitted as part of the planning application in a fire statement.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “This is a key step in our progress towards a new, risk-based building safety regime that will ensure fire safety is prioritised at every stage in the development of high-rise buildings. “I am pleased to appoint the Health and Safety Executive as the statutory consultee, which will be on-hand to provide their expertise to local planning authorities on these important fire safety elements.

“We are driving up the standards of safety for people’s homes and our new regulator – to be introduced under the Building Safety Bill – will provide this essential oversight, from a building’s initial design, to providing homes in the future.” Local planning authorities must seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as the statutory consultee on fire safety, before a decision is made on the application. In future, this role is likely to become part of the new Building Safety Regulator – which, led by HSE, will oversee a new safety regime for high-rise residential homes.

Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley, commented: “Mandating that high-rise residential developments must receive statutory consent from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is proof that fire safety is no longer a fringe concern. Developers will now be accountable for fire safety compliance at the very first sight of submitted proposals, though arguably arriving four years too late. “For future owners and occupiers of these apartments, there’s still no further comfort that if something were to go wrong remediation costs will be satisfied by the people who made the mistakes. Until the Building Safety Bill becomes law, the standards developers are expected to adhere to are still not as stringent as they should be.”

Marc Da Silva: New fire safety planning requirements come into force


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