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Measures to guarantee fire safety added to PPG

Words: Laura Edgar

Measures that seek to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for high-rise residential developments have been added to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).

They apply to applications for planning permission made on or after 1 August 2021.

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 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:

  • 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 as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.

The government said the changes are aimed at making certain that applicants and decision-makers consider planning issues relevant to fire safety. They will be considered at the earliest possible stage in the development process.

Buildings relevant to planning gateway one are those that contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and ones that meet the height condition of 18 metres or more in height or seven or more storeys.

Dwellings mean flats, and educational accommodation means residential accommodation used by students at a boarding school or in later stages of education.

Other changes to the PPG include a fire statement. This will support the consideration of information on fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning matters, such as site layout, water supplies for firefighting purposes and access for fire appliances. It will form evidence that thinking on fire safety matters, as they relate to planning, has been incorporated into the planning application.

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 a fire statement.

The guidance can be found on the UK Government website.

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