Council urges government to go further on second staircase fire safety measures

Plans to require new tall buildings to include a second staircase should apply to all buildings above 18 metres in height, Hackney Council has told ministers as it backed calls from the National Fire Chiefs Council for higher fire safety standards in light of the Grenfell tragedy.

Responding to the government’s consultation on changes to fire safety regulations for residential buildings, the Council urged the government to go further than its current proposal for new residential buildings above 30 metres to have at least two staircases and instead apply the measure to buildings over 18 metres high that have not yet received planning approval.

Last year the National Fire Chiefs Council called for the 18 metre requirement to be introduced to provide an additional evacuation route for residents and alternative access for firefighters in the event of the fire.

The Council will also go a step further by updating plans for its own new buildings where construction has not begun that will be above 30 metres, even where planning permission has already been secured.

Later this month, the Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the appointment of a contractor to build new homes on the site of the former Britannia Leisure Centre as part of its flagship Britannia development. As part of the agreement, the Council will work with the contractor to make changes to plans in order to incorporate a second staircase in the project’s three out of four buildings that are at or above 30 metres tall.

The Council will make these changes while maintaining the planned 51 Council homes for social rent and 30 homes for shared ownership in the development. The project also includes outright sale homes to help pay for this new social housing, as well as the state-of-the-art new Britannia Leisure Centre and brand new secondary school for the City of London Academy Shoreditch Park already completed as part of the Britannia project.

 Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, we’ve led the way not just in encouraging government to take action on fire safety but on doing the right thing ourselves – whether by upgrading our own buildings without passing the cost to leaseholders or working with other landlords to ensure they address fire risks. This work has also been undertaken with little government financial support.

That also means keeping our own building plans up to date with best practice in fire safety. While our Britannia project has already been designed to meet and where possible exceed current building regulations, updating the plans now shows an example to other developers in Hackney and elsewhere and will ensure we build much-needed new Council homes that meet the highest fire safety standards.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

The appointed contractor is expected to be confirmed in April, with construction work beginning once updates to the design are completed.

Read the Council’s response to the government’s consultation.