Measures to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for high-rise residential developments have come into force.
The standards apply to applications for planning permission made on or after 1 August 2021.
It was announced in June that the measures would be added to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). Known as planning gateway one, the measures intend to ensure that high-rise developments consider fire safety at the earliest stages of planning.
There are two key elements to planning gateway one:
– 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.
– To establish the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.
Fire statements must be submitted on a form published by the Secretary of State and includes such things as site layout and emergency vehicle access and water supplies for firefighting purpose and what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to the fire safety of the development, and what account has been taken of this. Interestingly, for outline planning applications, the PPG explains “As detailed plans about matters that can be reserved such as layout and scale are not necessarily submitted with outline planning applications, it will not be a statutory requirement that applicants for outline planning permission submit a fire statement. While it will not be a statutory requirement a developer may voluntarily provide the type of information required by a fire statement with their application”. This begs the question – what if details such as layout and scale are submitted for determination at the initial outline stage?
– contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and
– meet the height condition of 18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys
Details of how to measure the building height are contained in Planning Practice Guidance. “Dwellings” includes flats, and “educational accommodation” means residential accommodation for the use of students boarding at a boarding school or in later stages of education.
The government made a commitment in Building a Safer Future: Proposals for Reform of the Building Safety Regulatory System to introduce planning gateway one. It was made in response to the Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt, commissioned by the government following the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017.
Local planning authorities are required to seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the HSE as the statutory consultee on fire safety before a decision is made on the application. The statutory consult role is likely in future to become part of the new Building Safety Regulator, which will be led by HSE.
Alan Davies, Associate Director at Chapman Lily explained “it is clear this additional requirement for “relevant developments” is not a tick box exercise. Obtaining feedback on proposed designs and layouts from the HSE prior to submitting a planning application will reduce delays during the processing of the planning application by the LPA”.
For more information about what you need to include with your application or how the introduction of the fire regulations might effect your development, please contact us.