Measures to ensure that fire safety matters are included at the planning stage for schemes involving high-rise residential buildings have been announced by the government.
The measures have been added to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) and will apply to applications made on or after 1 August 2021.
They will require the developer to submit a fire statement setting out fire safety considerations specific to the development with a relevant application for planning permission for development that involves one or more relevant buildings.
It also means that the Health and Safety Executive is established as a statutory consult for relevant planning applications.
Relevant buildings for the guidance should contain "two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and meet the height condition of 18m or more in height, or 7 or more storeys”, according to the new measures.
The measures are intended to “help ensure that applicants and decision-makers consider planning issues relevant to fire safety, bringing forward thinking on fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning to the earliest possible stage in the development process and result in better schemes which fully integrate thinking on fire safety”.
The government states that fire statements “will support the consideration of information on fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning matters (eg, site layout, water supplies for firefighting purposes and access for fire appliances)”.
It added that it is the intention that the information provided within fire statements is “focused and concise, specific and relevant to the development, and proportionate to the scale, type and complexity of the proposal”.
“The fire safety matters contained in a fire statement are relevant only to the extent they are relevant to land use planning”, the government added.
It says “the level of detail and focus of information should not contain the breadth and depth of information on fire safety which will be submitted at building control application stage” and that the requirements of the fire statement at planning stage “will not duplicate or require compliance with the building regulations”.
The changes have been brought about following the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June 2017, after which the government commissioned the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
The report highlighted the need to transform the fire and building safety regime and recommended that “some minimum requirements around fire safety will need to be addressed when local planning authorities are determining planning applications and will require input from those with the relevant expertise”.