Bid to mandate second staircases to make buildings safer

Bid to mandate second staircases to make buildings safer

0:02 AM, 30th December 2022, About A year ago

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The Government is proposing to mandate second staircases in new residential buildings that are more than 30m high in a bid to boost safety.

This is the latest step in updating the statutory guidance on building regulations for new buildings to ensure the safety of those living and working in them.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities says it will consult on its plans over the next 12 weeks.

In addition to second staircases, the proposals also include sprinkler systems for all new care homes and both measures are aimed at building on safety measures introduced since the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

‘Lessons still to be learnt from the Grenfell Tower tragedy’

Lee Rowley, the minister for Local Government and Building Safety, 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.”

He added: “Other measures being considered as part of the consultation include removing references to the national classifications – BS 476 – from Approved Document B.

“This means the dual system currently in place will end and construction product manufacturers will be required to test their products to the British standard version of the European Standards.”

‘Government will also be undertaking a call for evidence’

Mr Rowley continued: “The government will also be undertaking a call for evidence on revisions to Approved Document B covering materials and products used in external walls.

“In practice, the call for evidence will seek views from industry on what materials should be covered and how best to improve the clarity of the guidance provided in these paragraphs.”

He also pointed out that since the Grenfell Tower fire, the department has undertaken the task of updating and improving fire safety guidance to prevent it from happening again.

Significant changes to the Building Regulations

The department has already made several significant changes to the Building Regulations and its guidance. Since 2017, the department has:

  • Implemented a ban on combustible materials for residential buildings, hospitals and student accommodation above 18m and provided new guidance for residential buildings between 11m-18m
  • Banned the use of Metal Composite Materials of the type used on Grenfell on all buildings
  • Undertaken a large programme of work to clarify the guidance
  • Lowered the threshold for the provision of sprinklers in new blocks of flats from 30m+ to 11m+
  • Made provisions for wayfinding signage for firefighters in new blocks of flats more than 11m
  • Made provisions for evacuation alert systems in new residential buildings over 18 metres in height.

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