New fire safety measures to be incorporated into all relevant planning applications

Planning

One of the challenges faced when designing larger scale developments is making sure that buildings are as safe as they can possibly be in every aspect.

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, new legislation is now in place that aims to prevent any such event from reoccurring.  

The new measures seek to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated and considered at the planning stage for high-rise residential developments and have been added to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) for all applications from August 1 2021.

The new regulations are in response to Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, which the government commissioned following the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

There are two key elements to "planning gateway one" (the initial point of planning applications):

  1. 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.
  2. To establish the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications

Buildings that fall within these regulations will meeting the following criteria:

  1. be two or more dwellings or educational accommodation (boarding school or student halls/flats etc) AND
  2. be 18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys.

This applies to new developments of the above buildings;

The government said the changes are aimed at making certain that applicants and decision-makers consider planning issues relevant to fire safety at the outset of every development so that they play an integral part of every development from the earliest states.

A fire statement will also now be required for all relevant applications to prove that fire safety has been considered as an important part of the development. It should be focussed and concise, specific and relevant to the development, and proportionate to the scale, type and complexity of the proposal.

It should consider the relationship of fire safety matters to land use as well as site layout, including the location of water supplies for firefighting purposes and access for fire appliances.

In general a statement would including the following:

  • 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
  • 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
  • how any policies relating to fire safety in relevant local development documents have been taken into account

Fire statements will not be a statutory requirement for outline applications although in most cases, applications for permission for a material change of use of land or buildings will require one.

“This is an incredibly important area to be addressed, and a welcome development in building safety," said our co-founder, Ben Smith. "Multi-occupancy applications can be very complicated, but the requirement to set out everything in a statement with clear intentions as to fire safety measures and considerations at the very beginning of every project should make sure that nothing is missed further into a development.”

Full guidance can be found on the UK Government website, here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fire-safety-and-high-rise-residential-buildings-from-1-august-2021

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