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Fire safety planning requirements have come into force

Words: Laura Edgar
High rise flats / iStock-1124435036

Measures to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for high-rise residential developments have come into force.

The standards apply to applications for planning permission made on or after yesterday (1 August 2021).

It was announced in June that the measures would be added to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). Known as planning gateway one, the measures intend to ensure that high-rise developments consider fire safety at the earliest stages of planning.

There are two key elements to planning gateway one:

  • 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.
  • To establish the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.

The government made a commitment in Building a Safer Future: Proposals for Reform of the Building Safety Regulatory System to introduce planning gateway one. It was made in response to the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, commissioned by the government following the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.

Local planning authorities are required to seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the HSE as the statutory consultee on fire safety before a decision is made on the application. The statutory consult role is likely in future to become part of the new Building Safety Regulator, which will be led by HSE.

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 its 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.”

Peter Baker, chief inspector of buildings at the HSE, said: “The introduction of planning gateway one is an important milestone in the journey to radically reform building safety so that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.

“It will ensure that fire safety is considered from the very beginning of a building’s life and that developments benefit from integrated thinking on fire safety.

“The Health and Safety Executive is now a statutory consultee for planning applications involving relevant high-rise residential buildings and will apply risk-based fire safety knowledge and expertise to evaluate planning applications. This will enable local planning authorities to make sound and informed decisions.”

Read more:

Measures to guarantee fire safety added to PPG

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