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Fire Statements – Part Two – What are the relevant buildings?

August 24, 2021 9:52 am

The introduction on 1st August 2021 of the Fire Statements at planning gateway one stage is a new government requirement and an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. The change is to ensure that fire safety matters are incorporated at the planning stage for schemes involving a relevant high-rise residential building.

Part two of LWF Fire Engineering’s blog series will look at what constitutes a relevant high-rise building and how it may affect developments.

A relevant building is one that contains two or more dwellings or educational accommodation and is either 18 metres or more in height or 7 or more storeys high.

Educational accommodation in this context refers to residential accommodation for the use of students at a boarding school or in the later stages of education. It does not include day education facilities. Under planning gateway one, the provisions are restricted to developments including one or both of these elements, however, the forthcoming Building Safety Bill may deliver additional provisions.

Measurement of the building should be undertaken in a specific manner. When measuring against the 18 metres in height standard, the measurement should be taken from ground level on the lowest side adjoining the building to the upper floor surface of the top storey – but ignoring roof-top machinery or plant area, or a top floor which consists exclusively of machinery or plant rooms.

When measuring based on a building being 7 or more storeys in height, storeys below ground level (where any part of the finished surface of the storey ceiling is below ground level adjacent to that part of the building) should be ignored and the first storey counted from the ground level on the lowest side of the building.

Mezzanine floors should be included in the count where the internal floor area of the mezzanine is at least 50% of the internal floor area of the largest storey of the building which is not below ground level.

In summary, to count the number of storeys of a building to determine if it is relevant under
gateway one, count from the position giving the greatest number, only excluding a storey if it is entirely below ground level or is exclusively a top-floor plant/machinery level.

There are certain exemptions from the requirement to submit a fire statement with an application for planning permission. As follows:

  • Where the application is for a material change of use of a relevant building and the material change of use would result in it no longer being a relevant building (complete removal of dwellings in favour of only office space, for example).
  • The application is for a material change in use of land or buildings within the curtilage of a relevant building and the material change of use would not result in the provision of one or more relevant buildings.
  • The application is for outline planning permission (because matters such as layout and scale can be reserved).
  • The application relates to permission to develop land without compliance with conditions under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.


LWF’s blog series on the Fire Statement includes information on the type of buildings affected by the changes, details on what information must be included and provides an overview of the application process and form. Part three of this series will consider what detail is required in the fire statement. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own project or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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