Fire safety and high-rise residential buildings

Measures to ensure fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for schemes involving a relevant high-rise residential building.

Measures to ensure the consideration of fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning are incorporated at the planning stage for schemes involving a relevant high-rise residential building.

Government made a commitment in ‘A reformed building safety regulatory system: government response to the ‘Building a Safer Future’ consultation’ to introduce planning gateway one. Planning gateway one has two key elements:

  • to require the developer to submit a fire statement setting out fire safety considerations specific to the development with a relevant application for planning permission for development which involves one or more relevant buildings, and
  • to establish the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications

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Why is planning gateway one being introduced?

The changes are intended to help ensure that applicants and decision-makers consider planning issues relevant to fire safety, bringing forward thinking on fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning to the earliest possible stage in the development process and result in better schemes which fully integrate thinking on fire safety.

What type of buildings are “relevant buildings” under planning gateway one?

Relevant buildings

  • contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and
  • meet the height condition of18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys

“Dwellings” includes flats, and “educational accommodation” means residential accommodation for the use of students boarding at a boarding school or in later stages of education (for definitions see article 9A(9) of the Town and Country Planning Development Management (England) Procedure Order 2015 as amended by article 4 of the 2021 Order.

It may be necessary to amend the provisions in future to align with arrangements to be made under the Building Safety Bill.

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How is building height measured, and how are storeys counted for planning gateway one?

Relevant buildings at planning gateway one

  • contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and
  • meet the height condition: 18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys

In this context:

  • the top storey of the building being 18 metres or more in height should be determined ignoring any storey which is a roof-top machinery or plant area or consists exclusively of machinery or plant rooms, and should be measured from the ground level on the lowest side of a building to the top storey upper floor surface
  • the building containing 7 or more storeys should be determined ignoring any storey which is below ground level (a storey is treated as below ground level if any part of the finished surface of the ceiling of the storey is below the ground level immediately adjacent to that part of the building) and counted from the ground level on the lowest side of the building
  • a mezzanine counts as a separate storey if its internal floor area is at least 50% of the internal floor area of the largest storey in the building which is not below ground level.

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