Government proposes second staircase for new high-rise blocks
1 January 2023
This article was first published on the Batchelor’s Solicitors website prior to its merger with Birketts.
The Government has announced that it plans to mandate the introduction of a second staircase in all new high-rise residential developments, as part of its overhaul of fire safety measures.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has put the proposals out for consultation but it has warned all developers and social housing providers to “prepare for this change now”.
If the plans go ahead, it is expected that the cost of including second staircases in all residential high-rise blocks over 30 metres tall, could cost the sector around £1.6billion over a period of ten years.
Despite the Government’s claim that the proposed initiative will “make buildings safer”, amidst calls for second staircases by RIBA, the measures were not specifically recommended as part of the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Government has also warned developers that may be planning to steal a lead on any forthcoming new building legislation, that it intends to allow only a “very short” period of transition for the completion of pre-existing permitted schemes.
Commenting on the new fire safety proposals, Building Safety Minister, Lee Rowley, said: “There are undoubtedly lessons still to be learnt from the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the Department for Housing is committed to working with the sector and residents to explore what more needs to be done to make new homes across the country safe.
“This consultation is the next step in the department’s work to improve building regulations and make sure they are as clear and effective as possible.”
In addition to its second staircase proposals, the Government has listed a number of additional fire safety initiatives within its consultation.
These include the mandatory installation of sprinkler systems in care homes regardless of building height and removing from building regulations any reference to the old BS476 British Standard national product classification system including ‘Class 0’ combustibility ratings.
The consultation is open until 17 March and views from interested parties and stakeholders are invited via a survey on the DLUHC’s website.
For more information on the specialist legal support we are able to offer the social housing sector, please get in touch with us
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2023.