Confirmed second staircases transitional arrangements


The government has set out the amendments to Approved Document B (Fire Safety) which accompanies the building regulations.  The amendments will take effect on 30 September 2026 and bring in the requirement for two staircases in residential buildings above 18 m.

The government had indicated that this change was coming in a written ministerial statement made to the House of Commons on 24 October 2023 which was written about at the time.

From 30 September 2026 all building regulations approvals must have two staircases for residential buildings above 18 m.  Before that date approval will be gained with either two staircases or one staircase for residential buildings above 18 m.

Any scheme which gained building regulations approval with one staircase before 30 September 2026 will then have 18 months for construction to commence in earnest (otherwise fresh building regulations approval with a two staircase design will be required).  The definition of this will match that set out in the Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023 and the government consultation response (updated 29 March 2024) says it will be "when the pouring of concrete for either the permanent placement of trench, pad or raft foundations or for the permanent placement of piling has started".

Whilst there is a fairly lengthy transitional period to assist developers, consideration should be given to whether there will be other impacts (for instance on funding, letting and sales) if a tall residential building (above 18m) only has one staircase.

The transitional period allows already consented schemes with one staircase to proceed and the government consultation response goes out of its way to say "It should be noted that there is no suggestion that existing and upcoming single-staircase buildings are inherently unsafe as long as they have been built in accordance with the relevant standards, well-maintained and properly managed".

It has been known since October 2023 that the 18 m threshold was coming in and developers have been designing for it.  However, this will still catch lots of extant planning permissions for developments which include residential buildings of above 18 m with only one staircase. Particular care will have to be taken with phased planning permissions as an earlier phase could benefit from the transitional provisions but a later phase may not.

If you would like further information or to discuss this please contact


featured image