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Planning Gateway One

A forward-thinking approach on fire safety matters

Mark Wilson, a member of the RTPI since 2001, is HSE operational lead for Planning Gateway One (PGO). He discusses the fundamental fire safety elements of the PGO process for high-rise residential buildings in England and explains why they are so important.


Following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, the 2018 Building a Safer Future report by Dame Judith Hackitt called for reform of the current system for ensuring fire and structural safety in high-rise residential buildings (HRBs). 

This led to amendments to existing planning legislation that established the Health and Safety Executive as a statutory consultee on fire safety matters for developments that include a "relevant building.” These are buildings that are at least 18m tall or have 7 storeys and contain two or more dwellings or educational accommodation.

The subsequent Building Safety Act introduced wide ranging regulatory reforms and as the statutory consultee, HSE provides advice on fire safety matters to local planning authorities.

In the past industry tended to normalise bad practice around fire safety, but the Planning Gateway One process is now changing this. PGO means that applicants are required to submit a fire statement form with their full planning application. This statement must set out fire safety considerations specific to the development, for HSE to review and raise any concerns with the Local Planning Authority.

The LPA’s use HSE’s response to inform their decision as to whether to grant planning permission – and HSE’s PGO team are available to support planners and developers to understand the PGO process and how it ensures better fire safety design. HSE’s free pre-application planning advice service can help developers resolve issues before submitting their applications, and they are increasingly amending their plans based on HSE’s feedback.

Our overriding call to action to all built environment industry stakeholders is to adopt a forward-thinking approach on fire safety matters at the earliest possible stage in the development process.

The DLUCH Planning Practice Guidance states that applicants and decision-makers should ‘consider planning issues relevant to fire safety, bringing forward thinking on fire safety matters as they relate to land use planning to the earliest possible stage in the development process and resulting in better schemes which fully integrate thinking on fire safety.'

HSE will continue its work to raise industry’s awareness of PGO and the content of fire statements. Look out for news on up and coming events such as webinars for developers, fire engineers, town planners and local planning authorities, and updates on Planning Gateway One, and the work of the Building Safety Regulator by subscribing to the free BSR monthly e-Bulletin - click here

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