Peter Baker, the recently installed chief inspector of buildings at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has welcomed the new planning requirements on fire safety, which came into effect on 1 August.
The new planning rules, known as planning gateway one, require that high-rise developments consider fire safety at the earliest stage of planning.
Developments involving high-rise residential buildings have to show that they have been designed with fire safety in mind via a fire statement in the planning application before planning permission is granted. They must demonstrate they have an appropriate site layout, including access provided for fire engines.
Local planning authorities will also be required to seek specialist advice on relevant applications from the HSE, as the statutory consultee on fire safety, before a decision is made on the application.
In future, this role is likely to become part of the new Building Safety Regulator which, led by HSE, will oversee a new safety regime for high-rise residential homes.
Baker said: “The introduction of planning gateway one is an important milestone in the journey to radically reform building safety so that residents are safe, and feel safe, in their homes.
“It will ensure that fire safety is considered from the very beginning of a building’s life and that developments benefit from integrated thinking on fire safety.
“The Health and Safety Executive is now a statutory consultee for planning applications involving relevant high-rise residential buildings and will apply risk-based fire safety knowledge and expertise to evaluate planning applications. This will enable local planning authorities to make sound and informed decisions.”
Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “This is a key step in our progress towards a new, risk-based building safety regime that will ensure fire safety is prioritised at every stage in the development of high-rise buildings.
“I am pleased to appoint the Health and Safety Executive as the statutory consultee, which will be on hand to provide their expertise to local planning authorities on these important fire safety elements.”