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.
Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration and Skills
Deputy Mayor, Housing and Residential Development