Cross-sector body, The Housing Forum has written to secretary of state, Michael Gove expressing concerns about the forthcoming rules around second staircases for tall buildings.

The organisation’s members welcome the clarification over the height limit, though this means that a large number of additional buildings at different stages of development are now falling within scope.

The requirement for a second staircase in taller buildings was announced in December 2022, but eight months on there is still very little in the way of further technical clarity on the purpose or design requirements. In the letter, The Housing Forum goes on to say that the sector is struggling with the lack of a clear roadmap that sets out how these proposals fit within other building safety changes, giving certainty and confidence in investing for the future.

The letter raises three main concerns relating to:

  • The lack clearly identified core purpose of the two staircases. The design of a staircase depends on its intended use.
  • Transitional arrangements
  • Clarity over the technical requirementsof second staircases

Anna Clarke, director of policy and public affairs at The Housing Forum said: “The lack of technical specifications means that those designing or constructing tall buildings are don’t have clear instruction on exactly what they need to do. They are also unable to make sensible evidence-based decisions on risk for themselves, because they are not clear on the core purpose of the two staircases.

“We’re particularly concerned about the delivery of affordable housing with many of our social landlord members unable to identify the finance, the costs or redesign or compensate for the loss of floor space required to fit the second staircase in.“

Stephen Teagle, chair of The Housing Forum said: “We’re very concerned about the transitional arrangements. The government needs to provide leadership to all stakeholders – developers, planners, lenders and landlords – to ensure transitional schemes are delivered. Stakeholders need to be encouraged to remain committed to transitional schemes to prevent important homes and places being significantly delayed or, worse, made unviable.”

You can read the full letter here.