Draft London Plan D11 (Fire safety) states that in the interests of fire safety and to ensure the safety of all building users, development proposals must achieve the highest standards of fire safety and ensure that they:
1) are designed to incorporate appropriate features which reduce the risk to life in the event of a fire
2) are constructed in an appropriate way to minimise the risk of fire spread
3) provide suitable and convenient means of escape for all building users
4) adopt a robust strategy for evacuation which all building users can have confidence in
provide suitable access and equipment for firefighting which is appropriate for the size and use of the development.
The draft policy goes on to call for an Independent Fire Statement (prepared by a third party suitably qualified assessor that sets out how the proposed development would function in terms of a number of specific issues.
Justifying text (paragraph 3.11.1) makes clear that the fire safety of developments should be considered from the outset. Development agreements, development briefs and procurement processes should be explicit about incorporating and requiring the highest standards of fire safety. How a building will function in terms of fire, emergency evacuation, and the safety of all users should be considered at the earliest possible stage to ensure the most successful outcomes are achieved, creating developments that are safe and that Londoners can have confidence living in and using.
In response to the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017, the Council undertook urgent surveys of its housing stock to check that homes were resilient to fire and safe. This has included two separate surveys at Lincoln Court which have confirmed that, although the Council does not consider that there is a significant fire risk, it does consider that the external wall insulation could be updated to meet modern fire safety standards. Given this, works are currently underway at Lincoln Court to replace the existing external wall insulation.
The prospect of building three additional residential buildings in close proximity to three existing residential towers and the resultant changes in access arrangements to and from the existing buildings and wider context raises a number of issues that need to be fully addressed at this stage.
Any planning application for development of space around the existing buildings should be accompanied by a Fire Statement which should set out in detail how the proposed overall development would function in terms of:
1) the building’s construction: methods, products and materials used
2) the means of escape for all building users: stair cores, escape for building users who are disabled or require level access, and the associated management plan approach
3) access for fire service personnel and equipment: how this will be achieved in an evacuation situation, water supplies, provision and positioning of equipment, firefighting lifts, stairs and lobbies, any fire suppression and smoke ventilation systems proposed, and the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of these
4) how provision will be made within the site to enable fire appliances to gain access to the building.