Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, confirmed in a speech yesterday that all new residential buildings exceeding a height of 18 meters will be required to a second staircase.
The government published a consultation on second staircases in December last year, initially proposing the requirement for a second staircase for buildings over 30m.
The results of the consultation have not yet been published but in his speech Mr Gove confirmed the government would opt for the lower 18m threshold for a second stair ‘following confirmation from expert bodies’.
In recent months a group of organisation including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) have called on the Housing Secretary to lower the threshold to 18m.
The confirmation of this measure aims to improve evacuation procedures and ensure the safety and well-being of occupants during emergencies.
Second Staircase Prioritizes Safety
In his address, Gove emphasized the paramount importance of prioritizing safety in building design and construction. By introducing a mandatory second staircase, the government aims to address potential risks and mitigate the limitations posed by single staircases in high-rise buildings.
Learning from Past Incidents
The decision to enforce the installation of a second staircase comes as a direct response to lessons learned from the Grenfell Tower tragedy. A single staircase in Grenfell was one of the issues identified which underscored the critical need for alternative escape routes during emergencies. This new requirement seeks to prevent similar disasters in the future.
Second Staircase Transitional Measures
Gove added that the government was clear the new regulation cannot ‘jeopardise the supply of homes by disrupting schemes that have been planned for years’.
In his statement the Housing Secretary clarified that :
‘DLUHC [the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities] will work rapidly with industry and regulators over the summer to design transitional arrangements with the aim of securing the viability of projects which are already underway, avoiding delays where there are other more appropriate mitigations.’
Second Staircase Conclusion
Michael Gove's announcement to mandate a second staircase in all new residential buildings taller than 18m marks a significant milestone. The new measure prioritizes safety and enhances fire preparedness.
Commenting on the announcement, RIBA President Simon Allford stated:
“This is a significant moment. Over six years on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is hugely positive and reassuring to see the Government listening to the united call of experts on fire safety, bringing greater coherence and certainty for industry.
Mandating second staircases in new homes over 18 metres is a vital step towards a safer built environment for all. We are pleased to have played our part in this.”
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