Labour group claims second staircase policy ‘has gridlocked 38,000 London homes’

LAL recently published data showing the homes were “gridlocked” due to government failings to clarify new fire safety rules − a jump of 4,000 homes from the 34,000 halted and delayed this time last year.

The figures only apply to major planning applications referrable to City Hall and do not include new buildings overseen by councils or other planning authorities. LAL argued this could mean the total number of blocked homes is significantly higher.

The government confirmed its plans to mandate second staircases in new high-rise residential developments last July, with the rules apply to all buildings over 18m in height, lowered from the initial 30m threshold consulted on.

LAL spokesperson for planning Sakina Sheikh said: “The housing crisis is bad enough without the government making it worse. It’s not good enough that they’re missing their own deadlines for the rules new schemes need.

“Buildings over 18m should have a second staircase to allow residents to get out safely in an emergency. The uncertainty the delay is causing, however, means Londoners are seeing the homes they need get stuck in the planning system.

“It’s unbelievable that ministers have the gall to criticise others’ housebuilding efforts when they are preventing new homes being built for Londoners.”

The data follows housebuilder Vistry Group’s announcement in its financial accounts for 2023that the staircase policy had cost it an additional £19.3m.

The group said this “represented additional costs to be incurred on sites we are committed to build and to reduce the value of some inventory on the impacted sites”.

It added: “Vistry Group is committed to playing its part in delivering a lasting industry solution to fire safety and on 13 March 2023, signed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Developer Remediation Contract.

“The group’s fire safety provision as of 31 December 2023 totalled £289m and we remain confident this will cover the cost of fire safety works in accordance with the group’s obligations. We continue to make good progress with the remediation works, which are managed by our dedicated team.”


Source: Property Week