24 May 2021
Requirement for new fire safety statements to be introduced into the planning process on 1 August 2021 for higher-risk residential buildings in England.
The government confirmed in the Queen's speech that the Building Safety Bill will be introduced to Parliament for debate in the next Parliamentary session.
Under the Building Safety Bill, a new regulatory regime is proposed for higher risk, multi-occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or 7 or more storeys (whichever is reached first). This includes a new gateway process - at planning stage, prior to construction and prior to occupation - which is designed to ensure that fire safety matters are taken into account at key stages of a development.
The government has published its proposals for the planning gateway one to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated into the planning stage of relevant schemes involving higher-risk residential buildings.
The Gateways will be established under the Building Safety Bill:
The key provisions of the Gateway 1 proposals are that for a relevant building:
A relevant building is a building which:
This is broadly in line with the proposals initially set out in the draft Building Safety Bill as to the scope of the new regulatory regime. Although publication of the Building Safety Bill following pre-legislative scrutiny is awaited, the Secretary of State is likely to be given powers to change the definition of buildings caught in the new regime to enable further types of building to be included in scope from time to time.
A fire statement must include the following information:
A standard form is published to ensure consistency. It is recommended that the fire safety statements are completed by a suitably qualified engineer with relevant fire safety experience, or other suitably qualified and competent professionals with demonstrable experience to address the complexity of design being proposed in terms of fire safety.
The changes to implement Gateway One are to be implemented by statutory instrument, the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021.
These proposals are due to come into effect from 1 August 2021, subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, and will apply to relevant buildings in England.
This means that planning applications in respect of relevant buildings submitted after 1 August 2021 will need a new Fire Safety Statement. Although the new regulatory regime itself is not expected to be implemented until 2023, thinking on fire safety needs to be considered at the earliest possible stage in the development process.