Large Buildings, New Regulations

11 April 2024

New regulations coming into force.

Recent government announcements have made new demands on the internal planning of High Residential buildings by requiring extra staircases, in addition building these high buildings has become subject to a more rigorous three stage gateway system to assess aspects of the build process, including compliance to fire regulations.  

Building Standards

From 30 September 2026, new regulations in the UK require that all tall residential buildings over 18 meters (approximately 59 feet) must have a second staircase. The next 18 months will be a transition period. 

Most tall buildings have a headroom between floor plates of circa 3 to 3.5 Metres so the new regulations will apply to buildings with over 5 - 6 floors.

Key points are that regarding the new regulations include:

  • The change reflects the views of experts, including the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
  • Transitional arrangements have been set to allow developers enough time to make the necessary changes while evolving safety standards swiftly. Projects previously held up at the planning stage can now proceed with certainty.
  • Interlaced staircases are considered as one staircase.
  • Revised distances for accessing staircases have been published, This also includes a second staircase for buildings in which flats are not separated from the common stair by a protected lobby, or where a maximum travel distance of 7.5m in one direction or 30m in multiple directions is exceeded. 

The regulations cover new buildings.  The government is planning to consider existing tall buildings having seen the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations.

An impact assessment published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities estimated that compliance with the government’s provisions – set out as its preferred option– would cost £2.679 billion over the next 10 years.  The bulk of this would be in capital costs to physically build residential towers with two staircases.  See Government News Item

Diagram showing revised distances below.


Impact in Guildford

There are several high residential buildings planned.  It is understood that North Street has already adjusted their plans for residential blocks to provide extra staircases.  It is possible other developments will need to be adjusted to provide an extra staircase. Extra Staircases will impact the viability of sites, this could result in loss of Social Housing or requests to add extra floors to consented designs..  It will be interesting how developers react to this challenge. 

Building Safety Regulator

Under the Building Safety Act 2022, developers building High Rise Buildings defined as ‘higher-risk’ (HRB’s) under the Building Safety Act, 2022 which are buildings at least 18 metres or seven storeys in height, and which have at least two residential units, or are hospitals/care homes meeting the height.

A High Risk Building (HRB) has to go through three gateways as development proceeds.

Gateway 1 Land use planning matters related to fire safety

The purpose of the Gateway is to ensure that fire safety considerations are inherent within the design proposals of relevant buildings before planning permission is granted.

Gateway 2  Building control approval for higher-risk buildings

This is the building control approval application stage. It will occur prior to construction work beginning on an Higher Risk Building. It will see a rigorous inspection of building regulations come into full effect at each stage of the design and construction process Developers cannot proceed with construction until the Building Safety Regulator has approved the application. Gateway Two provides a ‘hold point’ where construction cannot begin until BSR is satisfied that the design meets the functional requirements of the building regulations.  To pass through gateway two, schemes must undergo a statutory 12-week process where the application is assessed by a team of specialists chaired by a BSR staff member.

Gateway 3 Completion certificates (gateway 3)

The gateway process will introduce a ‘hold point’ at the completion of a project before occupation can occur. This allows the safety of future occupants to be the highest priority, as construction comes to an end. This important part of the new regulatory framework will ensure that Building Safety Regulator has the required information to issue a completion certificate.

More Details Below in attched document


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