Move follows Judith Hackitt’s proposals made in wake of Grenfell blaze

Developers planning high-rise residential buildings will have to show how fire safety has been considered across the entirety of their development sites from the summer.

High-rise tower blocks

The HSE will became a mandatory consultee

The first stage of planning reforms proposed by Dame Judith Hackitt relating to fire safety will come into effect on August 1, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government documents have revealed.

The purpose of the new requirements is to ensure fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning are incorporated at the planning stage for schemes involving a relevant high-rise residential building.

The papers said: “Planning gateway one has two key elements: to require the developer to submit a fire statement setting out fire safety considerations specific to the development with a relevant application for planning permission for development which involves one or more relevant buildings, and to establish the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.”

It said fire statements would include information on areas including but not limited to the principles, concepts and approach relating to fire safety that have been applied to each building in the development, the site layout, emergency vehicle access and water supplies for firefighting purposes and what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to the fire safety of the development; and what account has been taken of this.

It should also show how any policies relating to fire safety in relevant local development documents have been taken into account.

It recommends the statement is completed by a fire engineer or “other suitably qualified and competent professional”.

The gateway one policy will also require local planning authorities to consult the HSE before granting planning permission for development which will involve or is likely to involve the provision of a relevant building and development of an existing relevant building.

The new rules will apply to buildings that contain residential or educational accommodation and are either above 18m or seven storeys in height.

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New safety gateway points

  • Planning gateway one: applicants demonstrate that the planning application incorporates thinking on fire safety (where it relates to land use planning). Specialist fire safety expertise is provided to local planning authorities on a statutory basis. (Planned August 1, 2021 introduction) 

  • Gateway two (technical design and construction phase): bolsters the current building control deposit of plans stage with the Building Safety Regulator (BSR) as the only option of building control body for in-scope buildings. A building control application will be required, and this gateway provides a ‘hard stop’ where construction cannot begin until the BSR has approved the building control application.

  • Gateway three: (the current building control completion/ final certificate stage): will provide a ‘hard stop’ at which the BSR undertakes final inspections and issues a completion certificate. Prescribed documents and information on the as-built building will be required, and information must be handed over to the person(s) responsible for the building in use (accountable person in occupation).