Following the events at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London on the 14th June 2017, the UK government commissioned the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The report emerging from this commission identified a number of areas where fire and building safety regimes could be improved, including that some requirements relating to fire safety should be addressed at the planning application stage of the development process, with input from those with relevant expertise. These new requirements took effect in England on the 1st August 2021.
Specifically, developers are now required to submit a Fire Statement with a planning application. This Statement will describe and explain the fire safety considerations of a proposed development. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is also now a statutory consultee on planning applications, being the body responsible for reviewing these Statements and either objecting to a planning application or raising no concerns based on the content. These measures are known as “Planning Gateway One”.
The measures will put new developments under an additional level of scrutiny when it comes to fire safety, and are designed to ensure that these are considered and designed-in to developments at an early stage. It should also prevent developments that do not have appropriate fire safety features, or that have not given appropriate consideration to such matters, from being granted planning permission. The measures serve to emphasise the importance of such considerations in the development process, and ensure they do not become an afterthought, hastily added in to development proposals at a late stage or after planning approval.
Planning Gateway One applies to all new development in England that:
- Contains two or more dwellings, or educational accommodation; and
- Is 18m or more in height, or 7 storeys or more
A Fire Statement must be submitted on a form published by the Secretary of State, and requires detailed information to be submitted in response to a number of questions and particulars in the form. This includes:
- the principles, concepts and approach relating to fire safety that have been applied to each building in the development
- the site layout
- emergency vehicle access and water supplies for firefighting purposes
- what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to the fire safety of the development; and what account has been taken of this
- how any policies relating to fire safety in relevant local development documents have been taken into account
These new requirements took effect in England from the 1st August 2021. If you have any queries about the role of Fire Statements in the planning process in England, or for more information about the planning process in general, contact our Planning and Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.