This information is for general background knowledge concerning government’s proposals with Building a Safer Future. Subject to parliamentary scrutiny government proposes to bring the changes into effect from 1 August 2021.

Responding to the announcement FIS Technical Director Joe Cilia stated: “FIS has supported the development of the Building Safety Bill and the Building a Safer Future work that preceded it –we are fully behind these changes, supportive of the approach and encouraged that finally things are progressing to implementation.  As with any change there will be some wrinkles, but it is vital that, as a sector we use this regulatory change to drive the ongoing cultural reform that we know construction needs.  If members have any comments or questions that they want us to consider and feed in or around how these changes are likely to impact their work, don’t hesitate to get in touch”.

Building safety: Planning Gateway One
Following its consultation in June 2019 on proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system, the government’s response published in April 2020 set out their plans for change. This involved the introduction of three gateway points which relevant developments / buildings must go through. Currently, relevant buildings are those which are 18m or higher or 7 or more storeys, whichever is reached first, and contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation.

  • Gateway one – Planning

This has to demonstrate that the planning application incorporates thinking on fire safety.

  • Gateway two (Technical design & construction phase)

A building control application will be required, so this gateway provides a hard stop where construction cannot begin until the Building safety Regulator has approved the building control application.

  • Gateway three (Current building control completion / final certificate stage)

Provides a hard stop at which the Building Safety Regulator undertakes final inspections and issues a completion certificate. Prescribed documents and information on the as-built building will be required. Information must be handed over to the person9s) responsible for the building in use.

More information on Gateway one
This has two elements:

  • Requires 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 which involves one or more relevant buildings, and
  • To establish the Health & Safety Executive as a statutory consultee for relevant planning applications.

These requirements will be introduced via secondary legislation.

The fire statement must be submitted on a form published by the Secretary of State – see attachment for a draft fire statement form. (Click here view draft fire statement guidance). The questions to be answered will include information on:

  • The principles, concepts and approach relating to fire safety that have been applied to each building in the development
  • Site layout
  • Emergency vehicle access and water supply for firefighting purposes
  • What, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to the safety of the development and what account has been taken of this
  • How any policies relating to fire safety in relevant local development documents have been taken into account.

Fire statements will be required to include information on the entire development site as set out on the plan which identifies the land to which the application relates.

How are the fire statements different from the requirements of building regulations or the Fire Safety Order?
The fire safety matters contained in a fire statement are relevant only to the extent they are relevant to land use planning. 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. Requirements of the fire statement at planning stage will not duplicate or require compliance with the building regulations or the Fire safety Order and local planning authorities will not be responsible for any building regulation matters or the enforcement of building control requirements.

Change of use applications
Applications for permission for a material change of use of land or buildings will require a fire statement unless the application is for:

  • A material change in use of a relevant building and the material change of use would result in the building no longer being a relevant building
  • A material change in use of land or buildings within the curtilage of a relevant building.

Consultation between local planning authorities and HSE
A local planning authority is required to  consult HSE before granting planning permission for:

  • Developments which will involve or is likely to involve the provision of a relevant building
  • Development of an existing relevant building except where the development consists of a material change in use of a relevant building which would result in a building no longer being a relevant building
  • Development within the curtilage of a relevant building in the case of development consisting of a material change in use of land or building within the curtilage of the building.

A local planning authority must consult HSE on fire safety before granting permission to develop land without compliance with conditions if the authority considers it appropriate to do so.

For more information on Planning gateway one please click here.