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Ministry acts to make sure second staircase in tall buildings

Stock image from PxHere

Stock image from PxHere

Prompted by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC), the ministry of housing has written to local authorities to recommend not giving planning permission to tall residential buildings with only 1 group of stairs unless you can find extenuating circumstances.

Worries is that when the stairs are blocked in the even of a fire, there is absolutely no other internal escape route.

BRAC chair Hywel Davies wrote to housing minister Lord Greenhalgh at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities in March aiming concerns over proposals for tall residential buildings with single staircases. He wrote that such proposals are highly unlikely in order to show compliance with the existing Regulations. Nor do we think they’re in keeping with the arrangements that you will be steering through parliament.

Mr Davies wrote: To handle concerns that some still seek to interpret the regulations or statutory guidance or both to match their purposes, BRAC recommends that you write to building control bodies, local authorities and the wider industry, reminding them that building projects must show compliance with the entire Building Regulations and stressing that the statutory guidance and the further guidance in the Manual to the Building Regulations (that was revised in 2020) is supposed for common forms of building. In your letter you might desire to say that you’ll not be expectant of Approved Document B alone to justify single stair designs on tall buildings and that the relevant building control body should think about seeking (from those in charge of the building) relevant fire engineered solutions.

Five months later, this letter has been sent signed by Victoria Molho, deputy director of the technical policy division in the Building Safety Portfolio.

She writes: “The Department… can be involved that some very tall residential buildings are increasingly being designed on the wrong premise that the guidance in the Approved Document would work for these kinds of uncommon building situations without due consideration by the designers on the applicability of the guidance. I’m writing to remind you of the necessity to think about the suitability of the look guidance in Approved Document B and the necessity for robust, evidence based, design by suitably competent professionals, particularly with regards to fire and structural safety issues of uncommon building situations such as for example very tall residential buildings proposed with an individual stair.

“Building work should be designed and created to meet all relevant requirements of the Building Regulations. To adhere to the Building Regulations, it’s important both to check out the right procedures and meet up with the functional requirements also to provide clear proof compliance with those requirements, such as for example detailed fire engineering analysis.

The entire correspondence are available at

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