New fire safety planning guidance proposed for the capital

The Mayor of London has launched a public consultation on draft guidance that puts fire safety at the heart of the planning process for new developments.

Sadiq Khan has a strategic planning role for London and his London Plan sets out guidance for development and building across the city. He said that existing national building regulations are not fit for purpose and the progress of reform is too slow.

The Mayor is consulting on London Plan Guidance relating to fire safety. The LPG sets out how applicants seeking planning permission should demonstrate compliance with London Plan Policies that relate to fire safety (known as D12 and D5(B5)). The intention is to ensure that fire safety is considered at the earliest design stage of a development and addressed in the planning application.

The fire safety LPG is concerned with developments that include a new residential or commercial unit; or a new lift, or alterations to external walls or to communal areas that form part of an evacuation strategy.

Planning applications for non-major developments will need to provide fire safety information in a Planning Fire Safety Strategy. The draft guidance states that the author of the PFSS: “Should demonstrate they have suitable fire safety knowledge, understanding and qualifications, commensurate with the size, scope and complexity of the proposed development.”

Major developments will require a Fire Statement, with householder developments needing to complete a Reasonable Exception Statement.  

The draft LPG seeks to ensure:

  • competent fire safety experts are involved at the earliest stage of the design process
  • evacuation lifts and the space and measures required for them to operate as such are included in developments, so that people can evacuate a building with dignity during an emergency
  •  fire safety and evacuation measures are identified at the planning application stage and can be referred to in each subsequent stage of the development process   

Launching the consultation exercise, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“The current building safety situation is a scandal and I am concerned that almost five years after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, it appears that the Government are still not willing to properly address it.

“That’s why I’ve been using all the tools at my disposal to raise the standard of fire safety measures in London, through requirements for developers in my London Plan and lobbying developers and building owners to share vital fire safety information with residents.

“This draft guidance goes even further and will ensure fire safety is embedded in the earliest stage of the design process. Ministers must do their part and urgently review and improve Building Regulations, including regulations relating to single escape staircases in very tall buildings.

“I am committed to ensuring all Londoners feel safe in their homes, and that in the event of an emergency, they can evacuate safely and with dignity.”

 The consultation runs from 11 February 2022 until 20 June 2022 on the Greater London Authority’s Engagement Portal, where registration is required.

Photo credit: Greater London Authority.