New planning requirements for developing higher-risk buildings from 1 August

20 May 2021

The government has published new guidance on changes to the planning system to improve safety in new higher-risk buildings.

The guidance sets out more detail on planning gateway one, where construction of higher-risk buildings cannot begin until the Building Safety Regulator has approved the building control application. Planning gateway one will amend The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (as amended). The government plans to bring this change into effect on 1 August 2021, subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The guidance sets out changes to the planning system, so that fire safety matters are considered at the planning stages for new higher-risk developments. In seeking planning permission, applicants will be required to submit a form setting out how they have considered fire safety, such as access for emergency services and access to water sources. The changes will also require the local authority to consult with the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee, before planning permission can be granted. This requirement will apply to new buildings in scope of the new higher-risk regime (those that are 18m or over, or seven storeys and above – whichever is reached first), as well as new buildings that are in the curtilage (the land immediately surrounding a building) of a higher-risk building.

The gateway system for new developments is one of the key recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt in her Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

The Building Safety Bill that will bring forward the new regulatory system proposed by Dame Judith Hackitt was referenced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month and is expected to be published soon.

Who to speak to

Victoria Moffett, Head of Building and Fire Safety Programmes