Requirements for Second Staircases in New Residential Buildings

August 25, 2023
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The government has confirmed plans to require second staircases in all new residential buildings above 18 metres, a decrease in height from the previous 30 metres.

The new plans were announced as part of a speech by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, on 24th July regarding the government’s long-term plans for housing.

In December 2022, the government announced they were considering rules to require all new residential buildings above 30 metres to include second staircases in their designs and construction. Following consultation, a decision has been made to lower this height to 18 metres. Groups such as the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) have been calling for this reduction since the government’s initial announcement, stating that a second staircase in more buildings will help by:

  • Removing the risk of a single point of failure
  • Providing more time for firefighters to carry out activities
  • Providing multiple routes of escape for residents
  • Bringing English regulations in line with the rest of the UK

A potential issue considered with this change is the disruption that could be caused to the supply of new homes and housing schemes. The government has stated that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities will work with industry and regulators to help transition projects over to include the new requirements where necessary in an attempt to prevent delays.

Additionally the government has opened the Cladding Safety Scheme, a scheme that intends to meet the costs of combating all life safety fire risks related to cladding on residential buildings for all buildings over 11 metres in height.

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