The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently announced measures to ensure fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for schemes involving high-rise residential buildings. The new requirements are to be introduced through an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. These changes are to come into force from 1st August 2021.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, an Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety was undertaken by Dame Judith Hackitt. This identified the need to transform the existing fire and building safety regime to incorporate minimum requirements around fire safety in the determination of planning applications and require input from the relevant experts. The Government’s commitment to reforming the building safety regulatory system is known as ‘Planning Gateway One’.
The two key elements of this are:
• 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; and
• to establish the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.
The Government guidance note sets out that these measures will apply to planning applications relating to ‘relevant buildings’. This includes buildings comprising two or more dwellings or educational accommodation, which meet the height condition of 18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys.
Fire statements will be required to support the consideration of fire safety relevant to planning matters such as site layout, water supplies for firefighting purposes and access for fire appliances. It is expected that this information will be focused, concise, specific and relevant to the development, whilst remaining proportionate to the scale, type and complexity of the scheme. Such matters will need to be submitted on a form published by the Secretary of State. The information to be provided within these statements should not contain the breadth and depth of information on fire safety which will be submitted at the building control application stage.
A fire statement will need to be submitted as part of a planning application for development which involves the following (unless an exemption as detailed within the Government’s guidance applies):
• the provision of one or more relevant buildings, or;
• development of an existing relevant building; or
• development within the curtilage of a relevant building.
Alongside this national requirement, at a local level some planning authorities have implemented their own fire safety requirements. In London, the new London Plan (March 2021) already requires major development proposals to be accompanied by a fire statement, undertaken by a suitably qualified third party assessor. At the Local Authority level, some planning departments have gone a step further and require a fire statement for all developments.
Should you have any queries regarding these new requirements or if you think these apply to your existing or proposed development, please feel free to contact one of the Firstplan team and we would be happy to discuss further. Full details of Government’s guidance can be found using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/fire-safety-and-high-rise-residential-buildings-from-1-august-2021