Second staircase in tall buildings proposed

Second staircase
Photo: Nalin Prutimongkol |

Buildings higher than 30m may be required to have a second staircase under new government proposals.

Before the Christmas break, a consultation was launched by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on mandating second staircases for new residential blocks, as well as the installation of sprinkler systems in care homes regardless of height.

Research carried out by McGill University in Montreal, cited by Inside Housing, looked at 30 international building codes. It found only England, Wales, and South Korea lacked a requirement for a second staircase.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) had earlier called for all new high rise residential buildings over 18 metres or seven storeys to have more than one staircase.

Minister for local government and building safety, Lee Rowley, said: “There are undoubtedly lessons still to be learnt from the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the Department for Housing is committed to working with the sector and residents to explore what more needs to be done to make new homes across the country safe.”

The government consultation also proposes to remove the national classification system for construction products (BS 476 series) – including Class 0 – from Approved Document B. This will end the dual system and require all relevant construction products to be tested to the British Standard version of the European Standards.

A call for evidence has been made for revisions to Approved Document B covering materials and products used in external walls – including what materials should be covered and how to make the guidance clearer.

The consultation runs for 12 weeks, closing at 11:45pm on 17 March 2023.

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