The Govenment have introduced a new prior approval condition relating to fire safety for Permitted Development
During the Christmas break the government added a further prior approval condition. The new condition relates to upward extension permitted development rights to existing residential and commercial properties to address fire safety concerns.
The government created permitted development (PD) rights for the creation of new flats through upwards extensions to existing properties in summer 2020.
The new PD rights are subject to several limitations, which include the requirement for prior approval from the local planning authority in respect to various matters. This includes the impact on transport and highways of the development and contamination risks in relation to the existing building, amongst other matters.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government sent a guidance letter at the end of December setting out the new requirements to local authorities.
The letter states that the new requirement that developers must satisfy relates to upward development on existing detached blocks of flats and on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use.
Fire Safety for Permitted Development
According to explanatory notes, The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Order 2020 requires a developer to seek prior approval ‘in respect of the fire safety of the external wall construction of buildings that are 18 metres or more in height’
The amendment states that for relevant buildings the application for prior approval should include ‘a report from a chartered engineer or other competent professional confirming that the external wall construction of the existing building complies with paragraph B4(1) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010(3)’. This report must be provided by a chartered building professional. Where a report is not provided the local planning authority must refuse prior approval.
The letter also states that the government ‘does not expect local planning authorities to have the necessary expertise to scrutinise such reports in detail.’
However, it goes on to add ‘they should take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves there is no reason to doubt the conclusions of the report. In this respect, they may wish to check with the building control department if they have concerns about the building in question’.
What does this mean for Upward PD Rights?
The precise format of the report is not specified, but a detailed building survey report of the external wall make up is likely to be required for prior approval of fire safety.
In our view this new condition will also lead to the requirement for an EWS1 certificate to confirm the fire safety of the completed building to mortgage providers.
To commission an EWS1 Survey please call 020 4534 3130.
Also see our article on the demand for personal emergency evacuations plans (PEEPs) for disabled residents of all buildings covered by the Fire Safety Order regardless of height.
To request a call back from a member of the EWS Survey team, please fill in our Contact Us form here.
If you are planning work that is covered by the Act, or if you have received notice of work from a neighbour and want advice on how best to protect your property please contact:
BSc (Hons) MRICS
BEng (Hons) PdDip MRICS