Finally! Guidance for second staircase rule is here

The Department for Levelling Up have finally published guidance for the second staircase rule ending uncertainty that has seen many developments put on hold.

The changes to the government’s building guidance covering fire safety, otherwise known as Approved Document B, make it crystal clear that a second staircase is required in blocks of flats that reach 18m or taller.

White Stairs Wallpaper

It also confirmed the end date of the transition period for the rules as 30th September 2026 and revealed that evacuation lifts will not be a requirement.

The new guidelines follow Michael Gove’s announcement last year that the government will impose a requirement for second staircases on all new buildings that are 18 metres or taller. Initially, the requirement was set at 30 metres when the consultation on the policy was launched.

In addition, the guidance specified that interlocked stairs ‘do not constitute an alternative means of escape’ and should always be considered as a single escape route.

Through introducing these new requirements, the government have separated provisions for horizontal escape and vertical escape.

According to the Approved Document B amendments: ‘Where evacuation lifts are provided, these should be located within an evacuation shaft containing a protected stairway, evacuation lift and evacuation lift lobby. 

‘An evacuation lift lobby should provide a refuge area for those waiting for the evacuation lift, have direct access to a protected stairway and not be directly accessible from any flat, maisonette, storage room or electrical equipment room.’

Housing minister, Lee Rowley, said: ’The change in guidance to include two staircases for buildings over 18 metres provides clarity for developers and ensures both new and existing buildings provide safe and secure homes for all residents.’

Plans to install second staircases in huge residential buildings came after the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower. They help to ensure adequate access for both firefighters and a possible full evacuation of residents in the structures.


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