New safety requirements for residential blocks come into effect in November

22 October 2020

Three key changes to building safety requirements that will affect new residential buildings are due to come into effect on 26 November 2020. We described these changes, which are part of the government’s full technical review of Approved Document B, in our June 2020 article. Approved Document B comprises the building regulations in England covering fire safety matters within and around buildings. You can find out more about the technical review here.

The changes to Approved Document B that are coming into effect next month, affecting new buildings only, are that:

  • Blocks of flats with a top storey more than 11m above ground level should be fitted with a sprinkler system throughout the building. This represents a change from the previous threshold of 30m.
  • Wayfinding signage for the fire and rescue service should be provided in blocks of flats with a top storey more than 11m above ground level. The amendments provide clarification on the type and placement of signage, which aims to provide greater consistency for building owners.
  • There is new clarification around the definition of a boundary between two buildings, with a view to resisting fire spread from one building to another. 

We submitted a response to the government’s call for evidence in February 2019, in which we supported the proposed changes, but highlighted that the review must consider how these additional measures could be funded so as not to impact on housing associations’ capacity to build new affordable homes.

We also contributed to the government’s consultation on sprinklers and other fire safety measures in high-rise blocks of flats, which fed into these changes.

You can find out more about the amendments to Approved Document B on the government’s website.