Friday 10 February 2023

GLA statement regarding fire safety and tall buildings - second staircases

 This statement will have an impact on high-rise developments in the pipeline across London.

You will no doubt be aware that the government have published their consultation document shortly before the Christmas holiday on proposed changes to the Building Regulations, which includes mandatory second staircases in buildings over 30 metres in height. LINK

The Mayor has consistently expressed concerns that the fire safety requirements in the national Building Regulations are not fit for purpose, so the proposed strengthened requirements and clear direction at the national level are strongly supported. This consultation envisages a very short transition period with new developments being encouraged to prepare for this change now. In light of this – and given the requirements of London Plan policy D12 that all developments should achieve the highest standards of fire safety – we are clear that, with immediate effect, all planning applications which involve residential buildings over 30 metres in height will need to be designed to provide two staircases before they are referred to us at Stage 2 for the Mayor’s decision. We recognise that the earlier statement by the NFCC referenced over 18 metres but, to be clear, our requirement for two staircases applies to residential buildings over 30m in line with the national position.


The GLA’s Planning team is working with the Boroughs to progress schemes which are currently in the pipeline to ensure they include two staircases where necessary before any Stage 2 referral. We are all working hard to look at feasible options to secure this and try to meet key timescales, particularly given the impact planning delays may have on affordable housing grant funding. The GLA Housing and Land team are working alongside us with applicants and providers to achieve delivery of the current 16-23 Affordable Housing Programme. Investment partners should contact their Head of Area within Housing and Land to discuss the impact on AHP projects. The position of our Housing and Land colleagues is that any projects which were eligible for their funding, taking account of all criteria, and had full planning consents at all stages prior to the 23rd of December 2022 (when the government consultation was released) would remain eligible for funding subject to all other eligibility criteria still being met; but as mentioned, we still urge you to contact your relevant Heads of Area.


The Planning team would be happy to discuss specific applications you have that are affected by this so please get in touch via the relevant case officer. We are keen to work with you and partners to look at how we can progress these cases through to decision in a co-ordinated and pragmatic way.


Jules Pipe

Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration and Skills


Tom Copley

Deputy Mayor, Housing and Residential Development



David Walton said...

I think the Grenfell One Staircase Inquiry reporting its findings also influences the Mayors five safety "politics."

I have direct experience of a tower fire, two staircases definitely GOOD, as many more options for all involved escape and rescue. The only downside is developer 'loss' of so many units which have become instead the 'waste' second staircase.

Tall buildings management very complex stuff, even St Marks Church St Johns Wood was recent by fire total gutted rapid, too fast a burn for the Fire Brigade.

Again "political," but tall building zones Brent is a massive and complex liability if you talk to surveyors or builders, hence borough bankruptcy concern and who pays, clearly government decides its residents (Croydon, Slough and Thurrock) who pay the extra in borough fails. Why would Brent be the exception?

David Walton said...

To add.....

Looking at the Planning Application for Peel Precinct new Tower- 16, maybe 17 storeys, its on site and about 8 floor up now.... This is a one staircase only post Grenfell fire tower design PA 19/3259. Could a second staircase or fire escape be added by Countryside Max Flats Developer still this late in the day?

Again "political" to say, but a big problem for many years now is the Master Developer not notifying its agents planning applications widely enough in this car-free Growth neighbourhood.

Public Rights of Way are easy to extinguish because South Kilburn active travel intensive density neighbourhood public rights of way are not on the Brent PROW Definitive Map or Statement protected either. Instead South Kilburn is legally regarded as if it is pre 1965 County of London (inner London) where PROW is dealt with only on a case-by-case basis. If Brent does not PA notify residents widely across this Active Travel Neighbourhood then PROW's will be and are blocked up forever without local active travel needs having any say.

Kilburn High Road is becoming ever more difficult to walk direct and vehicle road free to which is unsound planning in what is a car-free neighbourhood quintupling its population by 2041 plan.

David Walton said...

South Kilburn Brent Local Plan Tall Building Zone Tower One, one staircase (let the market decide) on site building upwards in 2023, is 200 metres from where Grenfell fire survivors are new social rent re-housed by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in SK.

Monuments and memorial 'never again legacies', someone needs to phone Paul Boateng.....