Second staircase rule halts Wates’ Romford project

Second staircase rule
The project is part of a 12-year regeneration partnership across the London Borough of Havering (Image: Wates)

Wates Residential and Havering Council have paused a regeneration project in Romford, East London, due to uncertainty about the second staircase rule.

Both parties are working as a joint venture to deliver 550 affordable homes in Waterloo and Queen Street as part of a wider 12-year regeneration programme across the borough.

In December last year, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched a 12-week consultation proposing compulsory second staircases in new residential buildings over 30m.

The National Fire Chiefs Council went further and urged the government to mandate a second staircase on all new towers above 18m.

The government has yet to reach a decision, but it is expected that the two-staircase requirements will be incorporated into the new building safety legislation.

Under current legislation, tall buildings in England only require a single staircase. In Scotland, all buildings 18m tall (or seven storeys) have been required to have two staircases since 2019.  

On 10 February the mayor of London introduced a rule with immediate effect requiring a second staircase on all new applications of buildings over 30m.

Regulatory uncertainty

“As a result of continued regulatory uncertainty, a decision has been taken by the Havering Council and Wates Residential joint venture to pause development of the Waterloo and Queen Street site in Romford,” said Wates and Havering Council in a statement.

“Regulations are likely to change to require two staircases in buildings over 30m. As we are at an early point in the construction process, we have taken an opportunity to pause whilst we get a better understanding of what new regulations will mean and to update the design to include a second staircase.”

Wates Residential and Havering Council started their joint venture partnership in 2018 to regenerate 12 estates across the East London borough. The £1bn partnership aims to deliver 3,500 new council-rented and affordable homes.

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