Wednesday 28 December 2022

Newland Court residents' champion reveals Brent Council's potential crime over bat roost within the local vicinity of infill development (Amended)


Soprano Pipistrelle (Photo:

Writing on behalf of Newland Court, Wembley Park, residents, Marc Etukudo has submitted an email to Brent Council officers and councillors that raises serious issues of possible environmental law breaking:

 I would like you to accept this email as a formal objection being submitted amongst others submitted against Brent Council’s proposal to build 7 townhouses at Newland Court garages, planning application reference 22/3124. It has been brought to my attention that out of all the ‘infill’ proposals submitted by Brent Council's agent* on behalf of the Council's New Council Homes Team  not a single one has been refused planning permission and every single one has gone to a planning committee meeting and all have been approved. Can you please confirm if this is correct? 


I have been informed by the Bats Conservation Trust that if I think a wildlife crime has been or is being committed I should report it to the police. Once I have done that I have to ensure I get a reference number and then let them know about the incident by emailing They will then be able to assist the police, bat workers, members of the public and professionals by giving advice and information about bats, roosts and the legislation. 

So, as I feel that a crime is about to be committed at Newland Court garages by Brent Council in terms of the removal of trees where at least 2 species of bats are active and may roost, I intend to file a report at Wembley Police Station against Brent Council if the proposal is approved in its present form*. The reason being is that although the ecological report from Waterman’s survey does show two species of bats active along the line of trees, their survey is unreliable, because only one surveyor carried it out, at the wrong time and without covering the line of trees properly. 



The survey was done more than two weeks after it should have been carried out to check whether there was any bat roost in the garage building they identified as a low possibility roost site. Furthermore, carrying out bat surveys when street lightning could influence an inaccurate reading as bats would only normally be seen in dark conditions as they are sensitive to bright lights. Hence the survey reported a sighting of a soprano pipistrelle that was recorded 28 minutes after sunset and 11 passings of the common pipistrelle were recorded 55 minutes after sunset proving that the whole survey wasn’t conducted properly and therefore unreliable.


The same can also be said of the survey on birds. The survey reports sightings of starlings, bullfinches, dunnocks, sparrows and song thrushes. I believe that this is an inaccurate survey recorded as it was taken from a reference grid recorded between 2002 and 2018. If a proper survey was conducted then sightings of robins, magpies, pigeons, crows and even parakeets would also have been sighted and recorded because those are the birds we see out our kitchen windows on a daily basis therefore also acknowledging that the bird survey is also flawed and inaccurate.  





In the design guide document which was approved by Planning Committee and Brent's Executive (now Cabinet) in 2013, the boundary shown in the Design Guide, which includes the site of the Newland Court garages within the Barn Hill Conservation Area, must be treated as the correct boundary since 17 June 2013. Yet Brent Council’s agent has submitted a different conservation map boundary showing Newland Court garages outside the conservation boundary lines which is yet more evidence they continued to submit misleading information on their planning application to fast track this proposal through at any cost. * 


The evidence is there in the Design Guide itself, which states:


'This Guide was produced by the London Borough of Brent and adopted by its Executive on 17 June 2013. On 16 January 2013, the Planning Committee agreed to consult publically on a draft Barn Hill Design Guide which had been prepared in discussion with the Barn Hill Residents Association. Letters were sent to all owner/occupiers in the Barn Hill Conservation Area and Ward Councillors on 28 January 2013, giving 28 days to comment on the draft Design Guide. A ‘drop-in session’ for residents was held at Brent Town Hall on 12 February 2013 to give residents an opportunity to discuss the proposals with Officers. On 17 April 2013 the Planning Committee considered the consultation responses and the resulting proposed changes and agreed that the revised Design Guide be reported to the Executive for adoption.  Executive agreed to this on 17 June 2013.' 



HERITAGE REPORT submitted by the Heritage Officer states that:-


Section 72(1) of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990 (as amended) requires that with respect to any buildings or other land in a conservation area, special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area. NPPF. Paragraph 189 recognises that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and seeks to conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance.


This statement reveals reasonable doubt from the Heritage officer in regards to whether this proposal will preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the area. This is also taking into consideration that all the officers’ reports (Heritage, Transport, Tree) have been done on the assumption that Newland Court garages do not fall within the conservation boundary. This is yet another misleading application submission by Brent Council planning officers.



The Transport Officer's report also states that ‘At the current time, the application cannot therefore be supported, given the large volume of parking that would be likely to be displaced from the site onto surrounding narrow streets’. This is even probably after he had seen the parking survey which I have already previously noted as being flawed and misleading.


Even Brent council’s own Tree Officer, Julie Hughes has significant concerns relating to the impact that this development will have on protected trees. She also goes on to say that she has some significant concerns regarding the increased pressure that will be placed on the Council to permit lopping, topping or felling the trees within the rear gardens of Grendon Gardens, and the impact that this will have on both the visual amenity of the local area, and specifically the adjacent Barn Hill Conservation Area.


Below is a Topographical Survey map sheet of the coverage area from the canopies of the trees that overhang above the Newland Court garages from the gardens of the residents of Grendon Gardens. They show the extent of the tree canopies of the trees in the back gardens of Grendon Gardens much more clearly than the site plans submitted before to Brent Council. I believe this is the reason why the garages at Newland Court are within the boundary of the Barn Hill Conservation area. The diagram below shows that the canopies and roots of the trees cover most of the garages in Newland Court. It would mean that one half of all the trees would have to be chopped off if this proposal were to go ahead. If this doesn’t kill the trees, then the trees would then need constant pruning and lopping every few months as the pruned branches continue to re-grow.    



With all these mitigating factors:-


  • The fact that Brent is breaching a lot of their planning guidelines to fast track this proposal.
  • The overlooking rule for one in which you and I measured and found Brent's measurements inaccurate.
  • Misleading information on the garages being within the boundary line of Barn Hill Conservation Area
  • Unclear clarification of the boundary wall between Grendon Gardens and Newland Court. 
  • The removal of or damaging protected healthy trees in the Barn Hill conservation area.
  • Misleading information supplied by planning officers on the parking survey.
  • Misleading information on the ecological report made by Watermans. 
  • The systemic discrimination on existing Newland Court residents.
  • The reduction in residual bins for existing Newland Court residents.
  • The removal of 40 car parking spaces and reducing it to 12.
  • The site not being suitable for the proposed development.
  • The Heritage Officer having concerns on this proposal.
  • The Transport Officer having concerns on this proposal.
  • Brent's Tree Officer having concerns on this proposal. 


Even MP Barry Gardiner after seeing the facts and not normally one to get involved in planning issues wrote to the Chief Executive voicing his concerns on the way the planning officers were treating the existing residents of Newland Court over this proposal. With all the objections and facts that you have before you regarding this particular proposal, I’m sorry but there is no way that this planning application should be granted. That is, if every single detail in the form of objections and real facts that you and your team now have before you which should form a serious case for refusal. But if it doesn’t then there is something also very seriously wrong. 

 * Note an earlier version of this blog has been edited to remove inaccuracies in the original email to Brent Council for which Marc Etukudo has apologised.

Friday 23 December 2022

Latest from Thames Water on the Belsize Road burst. Waiting for specialist fittings to be designed and made to repair the pipe.

 Crossing my finger for everyone  re water supplies over the holiday weekend.  Here is the latest from Thames Water on the Belsize Road burst:

We’re continuing with our repair work to the large pipe that burst on Saturday in Belsize Road.

The pipe – one of our largest – needs specialist fittings to be designed and made. Once they’re delivered, we’re expecting to complete the repair by the end of the week.

We’ll then focus on repairing the road surface. A short section of Belsize Road remains closed in the meantime.

We’re really sorry if this burst affected your supply. We’ve redirected water around our network while we fix the pipe, so everyone should now have water.

We also have teams working in the area to fix leaks caused by the recent rise in temperatures.

If you’re still experiencing supply problems, please let us know on 0800 316 9800.

Thank you for your patience while we’ve been working to get things back to normal.

If we have further updates, we’ll publish them HERE.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Low water pressure in Wembley and neighbouring areas

 The 'back to normal' message doesn't seem to apply to Wembley as separate from the Fryent Way burst there is  also a reservoir issue. I wondered why my water is just a trickle after being cut off completely!

Wednesday 21 December - Thursday 22 December (from Affinity)

Low pressure in Harrow, Ruislip, Eastcote & Wembley 

Postcodes: HA0, HA1, HA2, HA3, HA4, HA5, HA9, UB10, UB5, UB6, UB8

We've had multiple bursts on our network due to the sudden temperature change, which has caused pipes to thaw quickly. This has impacted your local storage reservoir which needs time to recover following the increase in bursts. This means we're finding it difficult to get enough water to customers, and you may experience low pressure or no water.We're continuing to find and fix more bursts and adjusting our network to get more water into the storage reservoir.

Our teams are continuing to work around the clock to fully restore water to the area.

To do this, we need to make adjustments to our network to bring more water into the area and recharge supplies in local storage reservoirs.

Whilst these adjustments are made, your water pressure may fluctuate over the next 24 hours.

We are very sorry for the disruption this may cause, but rest assured we are working hard to get supplies back to normal for everyone.

Burst main in Fryent Way cuts off water supplies in parts of Kingsbury and Wembley - repair now completed



Affinity Water informed customers registered with its text service  early this morning that following a mains burst in Fryent Way, Kingsbury that water had been cut off. The repairs team is has been working at the site and had repaired by about 12.15pm when I visited the site. Seemed to be a great working relationship with the foreman fist bumping the repair gang as they completed the repair and started to fill in the hole with a mountain of London clay.

Unfortunately a secondary burst was discovered  in the same area and was still being worked on this afternoon. Water in Wembley is still lower than normal pressure.

For latest information go to LINK where you register for text updates.

This is the latest I have. Repair carried out and testing progress - supply restored soon .

‘Tis the Season to be Sneaky! Is Brent trying to award the c£100m Wembley Housing Zone contract without scrutiny?

 Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity


The location of the two Wembley Housing Zone sites.


If you’re a regular reader of “Wembley Matters”, you will be aware of Brent’s often repeated statements about the urgent need to build more Council homes for the families in temporary accommodation and on the waiting list. They are used to justify the Council’s often unpopular “infill” plans for some of its housing estates, and by Brent’s planners to justify recommending applications that breach some planning policies, and are seen by many as overdevelopment.


You will also be aware of Brent’s promise (and Labour Group election pledge) to build 1,000 genuinely affordable Council homes in the five year period ended 31 March 2024.


If you’re a regular reader, you will have seen at least some of my previous guest posts about Brent’s Wembley Housing Zone proposals. These include building 250 homes on the Council-owned brownfield site of the former Copland School building at Cecil Avenue. If they had got on and built them as soon as they had full planning permission in February 2021, that could have contributed a quarter of the 1,000 homes target. But as a result of a Cabinet decision in August 2021, 152 of those new homes are to be built for private sale at a profit by a “Developer Partner”. 


Title page to the Report which Cabinet approved on 16 August 2021.


For much of 2022, I tried to get this (what appeared to be an odd) decision properly scrutinised, but that was finally scuppered by the Chair of the Resources & Public Realm Scrutiny Committee (acting on whose instructions?) in September. Now there appears to be an attempt by those in power at Brent Council to stop any scrutiny of the actual award of the contract for the Wembley Housing Zone scheme.


This will be a very big contract, likely to be worth in excess of £100m. Brent advertised in April for expressions of interest from contractors for this, and they had to respond by the end of May. In November, Cabinet were informed that progress had been made, but the details were hidden away in an “exempt” appendix to the Report.


Extract from the November 2022 “Update on the Supply of New Affordable Homes” Report.


Then, in the past few days, an item appeared on the Forward Plan page, saying that the decision to award the contract, to be Brent’s Developer Partner for the Wembley Housing Zone scheme, would be made this month, under ‘urgency procedures’!


The Forward Plan entry from Brent Council’s website.


As Brent has been working towards this decision since August 2021 (in fact, long before that) and the contract procurement process has been going on for over six months, why was it urgent and what are those procedures? There are some clues from the document, dated 12 December, that was provided in a “link” from that Forward Plan, which I will ask Martin to attach a copy of at the end of this post, for general information.


It appears that there are various degrees of urgency. Normally, at least 28 clear days’ notice of a Key Decision has to be given. In this case, although it would be less than 28 days, it was planned to be ‘at least 5 clear days’ notice.’ The decision would be made on 19 December.


Extract from the Urgent Key Decision form.


If it had been less than five days, the Chair of a Scrutiny Committee would have ‘to agree that the decision is urgent and cannot be reasonably deferred for the reasons detailed ….’  But as it was ‘at least 5 clear days’, ‘the Scrutiny Chair is only required to note that the decision will be taken.’ In other words, there would be no scrutiny of whether or not the decision was actually urgent.


According to the Urgent Decision form, 28 days’ notice could not be provided because: ‘Conclusion of the contractor developer partner procurement was delayed.’ But Council Officers have been working on that procurement for months, and would have known that a decision on it would be required at some time in the near future, so notice could surely have been given earlier.


And the reason why it is ‘impractical to defer the decision to a later date’ is said to be ‘to meet delivery timescales and funding conditions.’ With the delays which have already occurred since Brent first entered into its Wembley Housing Zone agreement with the GLA in 2015, delivery timescales don’t seem to have been much of a priority before. As for funding conditions, the Council must have been aware of these ever since funding agreements were made (at least 15 months ago for the extra £5.5m the GLA agreed to offer).


As at 6.30pm on Wednesday 21 December the formal decision has not been published on the Decisions page of Brent Council’s website. Perhaps it will be published on 22 or 23 December. But why would Senior Council Officers (and the Cabinet member responsible for this project, who is the Lead Member for Regeneration, despite this being mainly a housing development) delay making the decision, and giving the intention to make it so little publicity, until just before the Christmas / New Year holiday period?


Why Call-in matters, from Brent’s Protocol on Call-in.


I’ve said before that those behind this controversial Wembley Housing Zone project want to avoid any scrutiny of it. The award of the contract is a Key Decision, so could be called-in for scrutiny. I may be wrong, but I suspect that the decision is being made now to minimise any chance of a call-in. For call-in to take effect, at least five backbench councillors (non-Cabinet members) need to request that a Key Decision is called-in, and they need to do so ‘within 5 days of the date on which the record of the decision is made publicly available.’ 


How many councillors, if they were not aware that this important Key Decision was about to be made (because the usual 28 days’ notice has not been given) would be looking at the Decisions page on the Brent Council website over the holiday period? And even if any of them were keeping an eye on it, what would be the chances of organising five members to complete and submit call-in request forms before the end of the fifth day?


That’s the main reason I’ve asked Martin to consider publishing this guest post – so that this Festive Season is not used as a cover to sneak through a Key Decision without anyone realising that has been done until it is too late!


Philip Grant 


Tuesday 20 December 2022

Wembley History Society Christmas Picture Quiz - the answers!

 Guest post by local historian Philip Grant


Thank you to everyone who had a go at last weekend’s Wembley History Society Christmas Picture Quiz, 2022. It was a chance to take a short break from a number of more serious issues covered by “Wembley Matters”, and I hope you enjoyed it. 


I included a clue, ‘in 1923’, in question 2, so hopefully at least those of you who remember the original Wembley Stadium (demolished twenty years ago) will have spotted that the men in the photograph were building one of Wembley’s “twin towers”. 


Workers building the concrete walls of the Stadium, winter 1922/23. (Screenshot from an old film)


Next year will mark the centenary of the building which made the name of our district famous around the world. We will celebrate that in 2023, but I wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the workers who built this reinforced concrete landmark in just 300 days (without the benefit of modern machinery, or hard hats!).


Were there a few of the pictures that you didn’t know the answers to? If that’s the case, you have the chance over the Christmas / New Year break to discover more about Wembley’s past. I’ve included “links” with most of the answers, which will take you to illustrated articles giving more information, if you want to take advantage of them.

If you were feeling competitive, you can now see how many of the questions you got the right answers to. There are no prizes, but if you want to publish your score out of ten (just to let others know how well, or badly, you did), you are welcome to add a comment below – only honest claims, please!

Philip Grant,
for Wembley History Society.


Monday 19 December 2022

STRIKES: Solidarity actions and locations this week - from information provided by Brent TUC

From Brent Trades Council






Guidance for 'Responsible Persons' under Fire Regulations that come into force on January 23rd 2023

 Some time ago I asked the Lead Cabinet Member  for Housing in Brent a question about the Council's actions on the revised regulations post-Grenfell and was told that this would be done when the responsibilities were clarified. LINK

This is an update of those responsibilities that commence on January 23rd 2023 published by the Home Office earlier this month,  You will see that a considerable amount of work is involved:


If you are a Responsible Person on whom duties are imposed under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations (hereafter referred to as “the Regulations”), find out what your responsibilities are under the Regulations.  The commencement date of the Regulations is 23 January 2023.  The duties in these Regulations supplement those imposed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (as amended).

From:  Home Office

Applies to England only

This information is not exhaustive but is designed to provide you with a high-level summary.

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for people who have responsibilities under the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (“the Regulations”).  You will have such responsibilities if, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“the Fire Safety Order”), you are a “Responsible Person” (or a person who has some responsibilities) on whom the Fire Safety Order imposes various duties in relation to fire safety in a residential building, such as a block of flats or student accommodation.

Check your fire safety responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order - GOV.UK (

Background to the Fire Safety (England) Regulations

In 2017, at Grenfell Tower, a high-rise block in West London, a tragic fire resulted in the deaths of 72 residents, the most serious loss of life in a single fire in the UK since World War 2.  The Government immediately ordered a Public Inquiry into the fire. 

In October 2019, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry published the findings of Phase 1 of the Inquiry.  The findings included many important recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.  The Government undertook, in principle, to introduce new regulations that would bring the recommendations into force.  These regulations take the form of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and extend duties imposed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

To which buildings do the Fire Safety (England) Regulations apply?

These Regulations apply to all buildings in England that comprise two or more domestic premises (including the residential parts of mixed-use buildings) although there are more requirements depending on the height as explained in this guide.  These buildings are, principally, blocks of flats (whether purpose-built or converted from another type of building, such as a house or office building), but also include blocks used for student accommodation.  

The Regulations apply regardless of whether the flats are subject to a long (e.g. 99 years) lease or are rented, and regardless of whether the flats are used to accommodate the general public or a particular group of people (as in the case of, for example, sheltered housing for older people). 

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations impose duties on you if you are the Responsible Person for any building which:

  • contains two or more sets of domestic premises
  • contains common parts through which residents would need to evacuate in the case of an emergency

The Regulations apply to:

  • parts of the building that are used in common by the residents of two or more domestic premises (e.g. communal corridors and stairways)
  • flat entrance doors
  • the walls and floors that separate any domestic premises from other domestic premises, plant rooms, etc, or from parts of the building that are used in common by the occupants of two or more domestic premises
  • plant rooms and other non-domestic areas of the building, such as tenant halls, offices, laundries, gymnasia and commercial premises
  • external walls of the building, including doors or windows within an external wall, and attachments to an external wall (e.g. balconies).

The Regulations do not apply within individual flats, other than in respect of measures installed within flats for the safety of other residents of the building (e.g. sprinklers, smoke detectors connected to a communal fire alarm system, etc).

Enforcement of the Regulations is the responsibility of the same enforcing authority as enforces the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  In the case of a block of flats, this is virtually always the local fire and rescue authority. 

Do the Regulations only apply to high-rise residential buildings?

The sections that follow begin with requirements that apply to all residential buildings.  There then follow requirements that apply only to buildings of greater than 11m in height.  Finally, the guidance sets out requirements that apply only to high-rise residential buildings.  The section headings make it clear whether the section applies to all residential buildings, only to buildings of greater than 11m in height, or only to high-rise residential buildings.

Because Grenfell Tower was a high-rise block, much of the focus of the recommendations of the Public Inquiry was concerned with measures to ensure the safety of residents in high-rise blocks of flats.  However, the Government is determined to ensure that residents of all residential buildings are as safe as possible from fire and that they feel safe from fire. 

What is a high-rise residential building?

For the purpose of the Regulations, a residential building is to be considered as high-rise if either of the following circumstances apply:

  • the building is at least 18 metres above ground level, measured from the lowest ground level adjoining the outside of the building to the height of the floor in the top storey (ignoring any top storey that contains only plant or machinery); or
  • the building is seven storeys or more, excluding any storeys below ground level).

A mezzanine floor is to be treated as a storey if its floor area is at least 50% of the floor area of the largest storey in the building which is not below ground level.

Responsible Persons

It is the Fire Safety Order that defines the meaning of Responsible Person in the context of both the Order and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations. 

As the term “Responsible Person” has a legal definition, it is not open to building owners, enforcing authorities or others to choose to “make” someone the Responsible Person, nor can the responsibility for compliance with either the Fire Safety Order or the Fire Safety (England) Regulations be delegated to others (though the Responsible Person will normally need to engage other parties, such as contractors, to assist them in compliance).

Under certain circumstances, duties can also fall on individuals other than the Responsible Person if any of the requirements of the Fire Safety Order relate to matters within their control.  In such circumstances, the Responsible Person will still also retain their duties under the Fire Safety Order.

For all practical purposes, in the case of a block of flats, the Responsible Person will be the person who has control of the premises in connection with carrying on a business.  This will, typically, be the freeholder or the managing agents for the block, or, for example, a residents’ management company.

If any part of the building is a workplace, the employer of persons employed to work in that workplace will be a Responsible Person.  This can occur if, for example, a concierge is employed or parts of the building are used for commercial purposes. 

So, there may be circumstances in which there is more than one Responsible Person within the same building.  However, even in these circumstances, overall control of the building most commonly rests with the freeholder, managing agents or a residents’ management company.

Sometimes, confusion arises from the term “Person”, because it might be expected that the “Responsible Person” is an individual living person (or what, in law, is described as a “natural person”). However, commonly, the Responsible Person will be an organisation, such as a property company or firm of managing agents (or what, in law, is described as a “legal person”).

If you are unclear as to whether you are the Responsible Person for the purpose of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations, or otherwise are unsure as to the correct identity of the Responsible Person, you should seek legal advice. It is not the role of, for example, the fire and rescue service to advise you in this respect, though, in enforcing the Regulations, the fire and rescue service may require to be informed as to the identity of the Responsible Person. 

Duties of the Responsible Person (General)

Information to residents

You must display fire safety instructions in a conspicuous part of the building.  The instructions must be in a comprehensible form that residents can reasonably be expected to understand.

The instructions must cover the following matters:

  • the evacuation strategy for the building (e.g. stay put or simultaneous evacuation)
  • instructions on how to report a fire (e.g. use of 999 or 112, the correct address to give to the fire and rescue service, etc.)
  • any other instruction that tells residents what they must do when a fire has occurred

These instructions must also be provided directly to new residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they move into their accommodation, as should also be the case if there are any material changes to the instructions (e.g. as a result of alterations to the building).  In addition, these instructions should be reissued to all existing residents at periods not exceeding 12 months. 

You must also provide relevant information about fire doors, particularly residents’ flat entrance doors, as these play an important part in containing any fire within the flat in which it starts.  In particular, you must provide information to all residents to the effect that:

  • fire doors should be shut when not in use
  • residents or their guests should not tamper with self-closing devices on fire doors
  • residents should report any fault with, or damage to, fire doors immediately to the Responsible Person

Again, the information about fire doors must be provided to residents as soon as reasonably practicable after they move into their flat and at periods not exceeding 12 months thereafter.

Duties of the Responsible Person (Buildings over 11m in height)

If you are the Responsible Person for a building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises and is above 11m in height (typically a building of five storeys or more), the Fire Safety (England) Regulations impose additional duties to those described above.  For the purpose of these duties, the height of the building should be measured as described (PDF, 4.18MB)

These additional duties are set out below.

Fire door checks (Communal areas)

All fire doors in communal areas of the building must be checked at least every three months.  Typically, these doors will include:

  • doors to stairways and stairway lobbies
  • cross-corridor doors, which sub-divide corridors
  • doors to storage and electrical equipment cupboards
  • doors to riser shafts, within which various services run

In checking these doors, you must ensure that the doors are effectively self-closing (or, in the case of cupboard and riser doors, are kept locked shut).  Self-closing doors should fully close into their frames when the doors are opened at any angle and released. 

A simple way to check this is to:

  • firstly, open the door fully, then let it go
  • then open the door to around 15 degrees and let it go

In both cases, the door should fully close into the frame, overcoming the resistance of any latch or friction with the floor.

You should also check that doors, frames and any glazing are undamaged and that any intumescent strips and smoke seals (where provided) are also undamaged. 

Defects in the doors, frames and self-closing devices should be rectified as soon as reasonably practicable. 

It is not intended that these checks should involve any more detailed, technical examination of the doors, or of the original standard of installation, nor is it intended that these checks need to be carried out by specialists.  It is expected that the Responsible Person, or their staff, should, with simple instruction, be able to carry out the checks. 

Flat entrance door checks

You must use best endeavours to undertake checks of all flat entrance fire doors at periods not exceeding 12 months. 

You must keep a record of the steps taken to comply with this requirement, including, in any case where access to a flat was not granted for this purpose during any 12-month period, the steps taken to try to gain access.

In checking these doors, you must ensure that the doors are effectively self-closing.  The doors should fully close into their frames when the doors are opened at any angle and released, overcoming the resistance of any latch on the door.  A simple way to perform this check is described above for communal area doors.

You should also check that doors, frames and any glazing are undamaged (and that glazing has not, obviously, been replaced with glazing that might not be fire-resisting), and that any intumescent strips and smoke seals (where provided) are also undamaged. 

Defects in the doors, frames and self-closing devices should be rectified as soon as reasonably practicable and depending on the risks identified.

It is not intended that these checks should involve any more detailed, technical examination of the doors, or of the original standard of installation, nor is it intended that these checks need to be carried out by specialists.  It is expected that the Responsible Person, or their staff, should, with simple instruction, be able to carry out the checks. 

In the case of any leasehold flats, arrangements will need to be made with the leaseholders to grant access to their flats for the purpose of flat entrance door checks.  In the event of an impasse, a court order can be obtained for this purpose.  It is recommended that any new leases include this right of access. 

Where inspections identify the need for repair or replacement of any fire door (e.g. communal or flat entrance door), this work must be undertaken by a competent contractor as soon as reasonably practicable.

Duties of the Responsible Person (High-rise buildings)

If you are the Responsible Person for a high-rise residential building which contains two or more sets of domestic premises, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations impose further additional duties to those described above.  These further additional duties are set out below.

There are a few requirements for premises of this height that require information to be sent electronically to your local fire and rescue service. The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) can signpost you to your local service. In addition, it will have information on what type of file size and format they can take, and what email address to use.

Wayfinding signage

Because of the height of the building, there is a need to provide suitable signage to assist fire and rescue service crews with orientation in the event of a fire. (If the building was designed after November 2020, the appropriate signage should already have been incorporated within the building for compliance with the Building Regulations.)

The principles that apply to this signage are as follows:

  • When firefighters reach the landing of any stairway, there should be signage that clearly indicates to them the floor number on which they are located and the flat numbers on that floor.
  • When firefighters use a lift designed for their use to reach floors, the same signage should be clearly visible to them when the lift doors open. 
  • The signs must be visible both in normal conditions and in low lighting or smoky conditions.

Read a detailed specification for these signs (PDF, 4.18MB), including the size of the lettering, the typeface to be used, the mounting height and suitable wording.

You must make sure that the signs are maintained in good condition, so it is important that you check them regularly (e.g. during other legally required checks within the building).

Secure information box

In the event of a fire in any high-rise residential building, it is important that certain information is readily available for the fire and rescue service. 

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations require that the information is held in a secure information box, which must be positioned at a location in or on the building that is readily accessible to the fire and rescue service. The box must be capable of containing the documents required by these Regulations, and it must be reasonably secure from unauthorised access and vandalism. 

You must provide the local fire and rescue service with the details necessary to access the secure information box and must inform the fire and rescue service as soon as practicable if there are any changes to these details.  Typically, a secure information box is protected against unauthorised access by means of a lock that is openable only with a key that is legally protected from copying and that is carried on fire and rescue service appliances.  However, other alternative means of securing the box might be acceptable to the local fire and rescue service, with whom there should be some discussion prior to adopting an alternative.

For the purposes of these Regulations, your secure information box must contain:

  • the name, address and telephone number within the United Kingdom of the Responsible Person
  • the name and contact information of such other persons within the United Kingdom as are provided with facilities to, and are permitted to, access the building on behalf of the Responsible Person
  • a copy of the floor plans and building plan

You must inspect the secure information box at least annually to ensure that it remains secure and accessible to the fire and rescue service. It is strongly recommended that you also ensure that the information within the box remains accurate. 

Good practice can be found on the provision of secure information boxes in high-rise residential buildings.

While it contains useful guidelines for example on the appropriate positioning on boxes, it proposes a higher specification of security of the box than is required by the Regulations. 

Information on external wall construction

You must prepare a record of the design of the external walls of the building, including details of the materials from which they are constructed. You must provide this record to the local fire and rescue service by electronic means.

This record must identify the level of risk to which the design and materials of the external walls gives rise, as determined by the fire risk assessment that you are required by the Fire Safety Order to carry out. You must also record any mitigating steps that have been taken in respect of that risk. 

Other than in blocks of flats with external walls of traditional masonry construction, unless the above information is readily available and known to be reasonably accurate, determining the information required by the Fire Safety (England) Regulations will normally require special skills, not normally held by a typical fire risk assessor engaged to carry out the fire risk assessment required by the Fire Safety Order.  Where necessary, you must seek the advice and assistance of someone with sufficient training and experience/knowledge.  You will, however, remain responsible for compliance with the Regulations.

In the case of external wall construction that is known to be of traditional masonry construction, it might be reasonable to assume that the risk of external fire spread is acceptable without further investigation, in which case this should be recorded within the record provided to the fire and rescue service.  However, even in the case of low- risk, traditional masonry construction, if there are attachments (such as balconies or decorative cladding) that, because of their combustibility, might result in rapid external fire spread, further appraisal by a specialist is likely to be necessary. 

The purpose of providing this information to the fire and rescue service is to assist them with operational pre-planning and to provide information that will be of value to front line crews at the time of a fire. 

Accordingly, the information should be presented in a form, and be restricted to high-level detail, that is of practical value for this purpose; over-elaborate detail of construction, without any explanation of the implications in respect of fire performance and risk, may not be of practical value.    

On the other hand, it is unlikely that simple identification of materials used in the external walls, whether combustible or not, will always help the fire and rescue service.    

Typically, other than in the case of low-risk, traditional masonry construction, the information that should be provided will comprise the following:

  • an overview of the design of the external wall
  • brief information on the materials of construction, insulation and any cladding
  • any known defects in the construction (either as originally built or currently)
  • the level of risk presented by the external walls, cladding and any attachments (as determined, where necessary, by an appraisal carried out by specialists)
  • any mitigating steps that have been taken in relation to the risk as identified in the fire risk assessment

A code of practice for fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding is published by the British Standards Institution as PAS 9980.

A suitable template for recording the information must be provided electronically to the fire and rescue service.

If any significant changes are made to the external walls of the building, the record described above must be revised, and the revised version must be provided to the fire and rescue service.

Floor plans and building plan

In the event of a fire in a high-rise building, plans of the building are of great assistance to fire and rescue service crews.  Accordingly, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations require that you must prepare a plan for each floor of a high-rise residential building. 

An exception to the above is that, if the plans for each floor would be the same in all material respects, you can prepare just one single plan for those floors, provided the plan clearly indicates the floors to which it relates.

The floor plans must, together, identify the location of all lifts (identifying any designed for use by firefighters or for evacuation) and key fire-fighting equipment in the building including rising mains, smoke control systems and fire suppression systems. 

In addition, you must prepare a single-page building plan, which shows the following:

  • the environs of the building (e.g. the building and its immediate surroundings)
  • details of the use of the building, for example for commercial or residential purposes
  • access for fire and rescue appliances
  • the dimensions of the building
  • information on the number of storeys of the building and the number of basement levels (if any)
  • information regarding the presence of maisonettes or scissor section flats
  • inlets for dry rising mains
  • inlets for wet rising mains
  • the location of shut-off controls for any sprinkler systems
  • access points for the building
  • the location of the secure information box
  • the location of the central controls for any smoke control system
  • the location of any firefighting shaft
  • the location of main stairways in the building
  • the location of the controls for any evacuation alert system

You must place a hard copy of the floor plans and the building plan in the secure information box. In addition, you must provide the local fire and rescue service with a copy of these plans by electronic means (i.e. email). 

If any changes are made to the layout of the building or the location of the key fire‑fighting equipment described above, you must update the floor plans and building plan as soon as reasonably practicable after the changes are made.  You will then need to update the plans provided to the fire and rescue service by electronic means.

Lifts and essential fire-fighting equipment

In high-rise residential buildings, one or more lifts are designed to be used by fire and rescue service crews to reach upper floors during a fire.  In addition, there are other systems and equipment that will be used by the crews, such as rising mains (i.e. dry or wet risers) by which the crews obtain water on upper floors. 

In addition, high-rise residential buildings normally incorporate other special fire safety measures on which the safety of both residents and firefighters may depend.  An example is a smoke control system that is intended to limit the passage of smoke into any stairway by removing smoke from common corridors and lobbies.  These systems are commonly, in turn, operated by a fire detection system. 

In some high-rise residential buildings, there may be other systems or equipment that are provided for fire and rescue service use, such as evacuation alert systems, by which the fire and rescue service can operate special evacuation alert sounders within flats.

It is essential that all of these systems which are present operate correctly in the event of fire. Accordingly, the Regulations make requirements regarding routine checking of all such systems and equipment.  These checks are in addition to the servicing and maintenance of the systems (usually by a contractor) required by the Fire Safety Order. 

You must undertake monthly routine checks of all lifts that are intended for use by firefighters.  Similarly, you must undertake monthly checks of any evacuation lifts that are provided for the evacuation of disabled people in the event of fire.

You must also undertake monthly checks of the following:

  • rising mains
  • smoke control systems
  • fire suppression systems
  • fire detection and fire alarm systems, including any systems linked to other fire safety equipment, such as smoke control systems
  • evacuation alert systems (a visual check of the control and indicating equipment, but not testing of the system)
  • automatic door opening or closing systems linked to fire detection and fire alarm systems

You must keep records of all of these monthly checks.  The records of these checks must be accessible to residents of the building.

If any of these checks reveal a fault in one of the above systems or equipment, you must take steps the rectify the fault.  If the fault cannot be rectified within 24 hours of its discovery, you must, as soon as reasonably practicable, notify the local fire and rescue service by electronic means.  You must also then inform them by electronic means when the fault has been rectified. 

NFCC has developed templates for reporting faults and rectifications that can be used to send this information to your local fire and rescue service. Many fire and rescue services would prefer you to use these templates as it helps them process the information in a way that is useful for operational colleagues.

Responsible persons should consider the impact of the fault (e.g. the impact of smoke control system failure on means of escape) and the need for any consequent mitigation measures. Responsible persons should also consider the need to review the fire risk assessment for the building, particularly in the case of faults that will be of a prolonged nature.  Consideration should also be given to any potential impact on evacuation arrangements (e.g. in the event of failure of an evacuation lift). The need for continued compliance with duties under the Fire Safety Order should be taken into account.

It is not envisaged that any of the above checks will need to be carried out by specialists or contractors (though some Responsible Persons may choose to have the checks carried out by maintenance contractors that carry out other routine maintenance checks on a monthly, or more frequent, basis).  The checks required generally involve only visual inspection or simple functional operating checks.

However, the routine checks must confirm that the system or equipment is in efficient working order and in good repair, based on guidance for routine checks provided by the relevant industry standard or any recommendations made by the manufacturers of equipment within an operators’ manual.

The following are examples of the types of checks you will likely carry out for the above requirements but do make sure you refer to any operator’s manual for specifics about your equipment:


The monthly check will involve operation of the firefighters’ switch (or evacuation lift switch) to ensure that it causes the lift to return to the fire and rescue service access (or evacuation) level, after which it can be operated only by the controls within the car.  It should then be ensured that these controls enable the lift to be taken to an upper floor, on which the doors can then be opened and closed from within the car.  You should also ensure, by means of a random check, that the landing controls are disabled and cannot call the lift to the floor in question.

Smoke control systems

Typically all that is required is to carry out one test each month to ensure that the smoke control system is capable of responding to a signal from any associated fire detection and fire alarm system.  Additionally, it should respond to operation of any manual control provided for use by the fire and rescue service.  Similarly, in the case of fire doors that are normally held open but close automatically on operation of a fire detection system (which are not common in blocks of flats), the monthly check will simply confirm that the doors do close on operation of the system.

Other systems and equipment

Normally it will be sufficient to carry out a visual check to ensure that the systems and equipment are undamaged and have not been subject to interference.  For example, this would apply in the case of the inlet and the landing valves of rising mains and the control valves of fire suppression systems.

Evacuation alert systems

No routine tests should be carried out; the system should only be tested at the time of routine maintenance (e.g. by a contractor).  The monthly check only involves a visual examination of the enclosure for the system control and indicating equipment to ensure that it has not been damaged or, for example, subjected to vandalism.