England: Coalition calls on Gove to lower second staircase threshold to 18m

England: Coalition calls on Gove to lower second staircase threshold to 18m

Eight built environment bodies, fire safety organisations and disability rights groups have signed a joint letter to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, urging him to require more than one staircase in new residential buildings over 18 metres tall.

The united call urges the UK Government to reduce the height threshold in England for more than one staircase in new residential buildings from the government’s current proposed 30 metres (approximately ten storeys) to 18 metres (approximately six storeys).

The letter urges the secretary of state at the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities to implement what they believe to be best practice, improving safety for occupants, and harmonising standards with the wider regulatory environment. This would also align with rules in Scotland, where an additional staircase from 18 metres has been required for four years.

The letter was signed by:

  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC)
  • Housing Learning and Improvement Network (Housing LIN)
  • Disability Rights UK
  • Inclusion London
  • Claddag (Leaseholder Disability Action Group)

RIBA president Simon Allford said: “Five years have passed since the fire at Grenfell Tower, and still we must make the case and take bolder action to help prevent further avoidable tragedies. Decisive action to make buildings as safe as is reasonably possible is long overdue. We urge the government to improve fire safety standards - and clarity on appropriate staircase design and provision is essential.

“We know that greater numbers of people are evacuating rather than ‘staying put’ during fire incidents post-Grenfell and we must ensure occupants have access to a safe, smoke-free evacuation route.

“RIBA and our seven co-signatories urge the government to adopt an 18-metre threshold for an additional staircase in all new residential buildings. RIBA has long called for clarity on staircase design, and standards that help ensure people are safe in their homes. The government’s current proposal fails to address our shared concerns. We stand ready to support government action on addressing all our concerns.”

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