Mayor calls on Government to ‘step up’ as he boosts fire safety in his new draft London Plan

Sunday 26 November 2017 

  • Sadiq turns Grenfell lessons into action in his new draft London Plan
  • Plan to require ‘highest standards’ of fire safety at the earliest planning stages
  • Independent ‘Fire Statement’ to accompany all major development planning applications
  • Fire evacuation lifts to provide swift and dignified evacuation for people who require level access  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Sunday 26 November) called on the Government to step up and do more to improve fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, as he revealed his new draft London Plan will provide a significant boost to fire safety in London.

For the first time, the London Plan will require new development proposals to go beyond the minimum and achieve the ‘highest standards’ of fire safety to ensure the best possible protection for all building users should a fire break out.

Following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower earlier this year, the Mayor is determined to drive forward every possible improvement to fire safety, so that nothing like it is ever allowed to happen again. This means safety considerations must be central to the design and operation of all new buildings.

Sadiq’s new policy will mean robust fire safety plans and features to help stop fires spreading, and aid escape, rescue and evacuation – such as fire evacuation lifts and sprinklers – must be incorporated into building designs from the outset.

Planning applications for all major developments will in future need to be accompanied by an independent ‘Fire Statement’ – produced by a qualified third-party assessor– setting out how the ‘highest standards’ will be achieved appropriate to each specific building or development, from the enormous variety of fire safety solutions and measures available.

The aim is for all users of new developments, including disabled people, to have full confidence that they are as safe and protected as possible and that there is a robust evacuation strategy in place should it be needed.

Today, as he set out his plans, the Mayor called on the Government to do more to strengthen fire safety across the country. This means ensuring the Grenfell Public Inquiry reports as soon as possible so that action can be taken, ensuring the independent review of building regulations and fire safety is as full and effective as possible and appointing an independent commissioner to give residents across the country a stronger voice in future social housing decisions.

Sadiq also publicly backed the Mirror’s campaign to install sprinklers in social housing tower blocks across the country.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The safety of Londoners is my first priority and it is absolutely essential that we learn every lesson we can from the terrible Grenfell tragedy, and do everything within our power to make sure nothing like it can happen again.

“I have repeatedly called on the government to ensure that the Grenfell Public Inquiry reports as soon as possible and that the review of fire safety regulations is as full and effective as possible. And I have asked the Prime Minister to work with me to ensure social housing residents are given a proper voice in future decisions.

“It is also completely unacceptable that just two per cent of tower blocks are fitted with sprinklers, and today I am backing the Mirror’s admirable campaign to install them in social housing tower blocks across the country.

“My new draft London Plan will, for the first time, require that the ‘highest standards’ of safety are set out at the planning stages of new developments in the capital, so that they can be incorporated into the design and build, and to give Londoners confidence that they will be as protected as possible should an emergency unfold.

“I am doing everything I can to ensure Londoners are better protected in the wake of the Grenfell fire, and today I am calling on the Government once again to step up and do more.”

London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Tom George said: “The Grenfell tragedy has put an unprecedented spotlight on fire safety and it’s now vital that Government, local authorities, builders and developers seize this once in a generation opportunity to raise fire safety standards to the highest possible level across all future building developments in the capital, whether they are residential or commercial.

“Only by making fire safety a priority during every part of a building’s life – from the earliest stages of the planning process, throughout its construction, after its completion and through any maintenance and refurbishment work  – will we see a significant improvement to safety standards in the capital’s buildings that will reassure those who live and work in them that they are as safe as possible.”

Until now, it has been possible for developers to delay addressing fire safety until the building control application stage of development when amendments can be very challenging to incorporate.

This new policy is being brought in now because Sadiq feels improvement cannot wait, but the final London Plan will also reflect any further changes that need to be made in light of the Hackitt review* and the Grenfell public inquiry. The policy will work in collaboration with existing or future building control requirements, just as the ‘highest standards’ of access for disabled people and inclusive design has so successfully been made a requirement of planning processes.

Sadiq Khan’s new draft London Plan – the overall strategic planning document for the capital – is expected to be published this week. A three month public consultation will open on 1st December.

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