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New planning requirements on fire safety have come into force, as of the beginning of August 2021. The new requirements, known as Planning Gateway One, will ensure that high-rise developments consider fire safety at the earliest stages of planning.

Developments which involve high-rise residential homes need to demonstrate that they have been designed with fire safety in mind before planning permissions are granted, including through their site layout, with access provided for fire engines.

This information is to be submitted as part of the planning application in a fire statement.

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: “This is a key step in our progress towards a new, risk-based building safety regime that will ensure fire safety is prioritised at every stage in the development of high-rise buildings.

“I am pleased to appoint the Health and Safety Executive as the statutory consultee, which will be on-hand to provide their expertise to local planning authorities on these important fire safety elements.

“We are driving up the standards of safety for people’s homes, and our new regulator – to be introduced under the Building Safety Bill – will provide this essential oversight, from a building’s initial design to providing homes in the future.”

Local planning authorities must seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a statutory consultee on fire safety, before a decision is made on the application.

In future, this role is likely to become part of the new Building Safety Regulator – which, led by HSE, will oversee a new safety regime for high-rise residential homes.

Peter Baker, Chief Inspector of Buildings at the Health and Safety Executive, commented: “The introduction of Planning Gateway One is an important milestone in the journey to radically reform building safety so that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.

“It will ensure that fire safety is considered from the very beginning of a building’s life, and that developments benefit from integrated thinking on fire safety.

“The Health and Safety Executive is now a statutory consultee for planning applications involving relevant high-rise residential buildings and will apply risk-based fire safety knowledge and expertise to evaluate planning applications. This will enable local planning authorities to make sound and informed decisions.”

The changes to planning requirements follow a key recommendation made by Dame Judith Hackitt that fire safety in high-rise buildings should be considered at the earliest possible stage in the planning process, as set out in her panel’s independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

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