Government proposes to mandate second-staircase as fire safety measure for tall residential blocks
Legal Development 12 January 2023 12 January 2023
UK & Europe
UK Real Estate Insights
Shortly before Christmas, the government launched a consultation which includes a proposal to mandate second staircases in residential buildings over 30 metres in height to improve fire safety. For residential developers, this could affect viability of high rise buildings, add cost and delay and lead to cancellation of new residential schemes.
Under the proposal contained in the consultation ‘Sprinklers in care homes, removal of national classes, and staircases in residential buildings’, changes to Building Regulations (contained in Approved Document B which sets out statutory guidance on meeting certain requirements of the Building Regulations) would require all new residential buildings above 30 metres in height to include two staircases. Existing buildings would not be affected.
Importantly, the government proposes only a very short transition period (the exact period is unspecified) to allow blocks already under development to be completed - this is likely to benefit only blocks that are already well on their way to being built out. The government is clear that it does not want this transition period to allow time for developments to get off the ground ahead of the new requirements coming into effect.
For developers, the mandating of a second staircase could have some profound implications for projects that are currently at the design stage. The inclusion of a second staircase would reduce saleable floor space and increase costs. The government itself has said that this new requirement will impact viability, and this is likely to reduce the amount of affordable housing that can be provided by developers.
The government’s consultation closes on 17th March 2023. To respond to the proposals, see here.
With the expected implementation later this year of the new building safety regime under the Building Safety Act 2022, including further changes to Building Regulations, this is an important time for those in the property development industry to monitor legislative developments. Look out for further Insights from our real estate team on our UK Real Estate Hub.