Second staircase to be mandatory in new 18m high residential buildings

From 30 September 2026, all new residential buildings over 18 metres high must include a second staircase, the Government has confirmed. This fire safety measure complements recent reforms like the Building Safety Act. The decision follows expert advice and aims to enhance safety in both new and existing tall buildings.

The Government has confirmed that second staircases are to become mandatory in all new residential buildings over 18 metres high. The new requirement will come into effect from 30 September 2026. The change in guidance adds to a package of recent fire safety measures and reforms including the Building Safety Act which ensure the safety of people in both new and existing tall buildings.

Existing tall buildings are also being considered as part of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations. The Home Office is currently considering responses to their consultation on personal emergency evacuation plans, to which a response will be published in due course.

Lee Rowley, Minister for Housing, 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.”

Following a public consultation, the government announced last year its intent to set a threshold height of 18 metres above which a second staircase should be provided in residential buildings – a change which reflects views of experts including the National Fire Chiefs Council and Royal Institute of British Architects.

This was followed in October by confirmation of transitional arrangements which set the timeframe for the new regulations and strike a balance between giving developers enough time to make the required changes, while also evolving safety standards as swiftly as possible.

Mr Rowley said the transition period also provides clarity for developers during a difficult economic climate and projects previously held up at the planning stage can now go ahead with certainty.

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