Sadiq Khan Accuses Government of Fire Safety Rules Delay

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, criticizes the Government over fire safety rules, causing housing projects to halt.

In a recent development, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has raised concerns over what he calls “bureaucratic dither and delay” in implementing new fire safety regulations. Khan asserts that this lack of clarity is impeding progress on major housing projects in the capital.

Uncertainty Stalls London Housing Projects

Sadiq Khan, in a letter addressed to Housing Secretary Michael Gove, expressed his frustration, highlighting that approximately 34,000 homes on major development sites in London are currently unable to move forward due to the ambiguity surrounding the application of the proposed fire safety rules.

New Regulations and Lack of Clarity

The new fire safety regulations, expected to mandate a second staircase in all new buildings in England taller than 18 meters, have left both developers and planning authorities uncertain about the way forward. While Khan expressed sympathy for the importance of fire safety standards, he noted that the policy was introduced without confirming transitional arrangements or the technical requirements for compliance.

Changing Height Limits

The initial government proposal suggested a height limit of 30 meters for buildings with only one staircase, a rule that Sadiq Khan implemented in London earlier this year. However, in a speech made in July, Michael Gove announced a new limit of 18 meters for buildings across England.

Lack of Guidance and Impact on Development

The absence of clear transitional arrangements and technical requirements has left councils and housing developers in a state of limbo. They await crucial information, such as whether the two staircases need to be entirely separate or can be within the same building core.

Thousands of Homes Affected

Sadiq Khan emphasized the magnitude of the issue, stating that the major schemes on his desk alone account for 34,000 homes impacted by the proposed second staircase requirement. He also noted that thousands more homes across London, not part of major schemes, will be affected by these regulations.

Seeking Clarity

Khan urged the Housing Secretary to provide clarity swiftly, given the national housing crisis and the adverse impact any delay might have on the development sector.

We have reached out to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities for comment.

Previous Criticisms and Fire Safety

This is not the first time Sadiq Khan has faced criticism over fire safety regulations. His 30-meter rule faced backlash from the Conservatives, who pointed out that 21 housing schemes with buildings taller than 30 meters and only one staircase had received planning permission since 2016.

Ensuring Fire Safety

Fire safety in tall buildings has been under scrutiny since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The Grenfell Tower, standing at 67 meters, had only one staircase, complicating rescue operations and escape for residents.

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