Building Safety Update - 2023

Building Safety Update - 2023

New Second Staircase Mandate Update Announcement by Michael Gove – Oct 2023

In July 2023, Michael Gove proposed the intention of introducing new guidance regarding building safety which requires a second staircase in new residential buildings above 18m, in England. This upcoming guidance, alongside a series of new fire safety measures have been introduced in response to the 2017 fire at the Grenfell Tower in London, which was significantly below the previous threshold of 30m.

This requirement for a second staircase is likely to form part of an upcoming revision to “Approved Document B”, the government’s building regulations guidance that covers fire safety precautions. 

Following on from this, Michael Gove recently announced that from the date of publish and confirmation of the changes to Approved Document B, “developers will have 30 months during which new building regulations applications can confirm to either the guidance as it exists today, or to the updated guidance requiring second staircases”.

Naturally, after the 30-month period has elapsed, all building regulations applications will need to conform to the new guidance.

Any applications which have already been approved and do not follow the new guidance will have 18 months “for construction to get underway in earnest”. Michael Gove stated that “sufficient progress, for this purpose, will match the definition set out in the Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023, and will therefore be when the pouring of concrete for either the permanent placement of trench, pad or raft foundations or for the permanent placement of piling has started”.

Any developments which fail to meet the 18-month deadline will be required to submit a new building regulations application following the new guidance.

He continued: “we ensure that projects that already have planning permission with a single staircase, the safety of which will have been considered as part of that application, can continue without further delay if they choose…This means that, for some years yet, we will continue to see 18m+ buildings with single staircases coming to the market”, he said, adding that he wanted to be “absolutely clear that existing and upcoming single-staircase buildings are not inherently unsafe”.

Michael Gove also stated that he recognised that developers and the wider market are waiting for the “design details” that will go into Approved Document B, which the Building Safety Regulator is working to agree on and he will “make a further announcement soon”.

A link for the original announcement is included here:

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2023-10-24/hcws1090.

The industry is currently seeing a slowdown/delay to planning applications as development teams revisit proposals to take account of this and other emerging planning guidance.

A key element of our input into to development proposals relates to the external areas of a scheme and development layouts need to be reviewed in the light of this emerging building safety guidance to ensure that sufficient external infrastructure, access and assembly points are provided to accommodate any necessary additional building access points. It is also important to ensure that fire tenders and other emergency vehicles can achieve access to these areas through vehicle tracking assessments.           

If you are interested in finding out more about how Mayer Brown Ltd expert teams can help you accommodate the ongoing alterations to policy and guidance, throughout the planning process, please visit: www.mayerbrown.co.uk or contact us on: enquiry@mayerbrown.co.uk - 01483 750 508.

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