Second staircases are to be mandatory for all new residential buildings above 18 metres tall, the government has announced this week.

Secretary of State for housing Michael Gove said the move provides “coherence and certainty” for the construction industry.

“This is a considered and gradual evolution of safety standards, which, when taken with our other fire safety measures and reforms ensures the safety of people in all tall buildings – both new and existing,” he said.

“The government is clear that this new regulation cannot jeopardise the supply of homes by disrupting schemes that have been planned for years.

“DLUHC will work rapidly with industry and regulators over the summer to design transitional arrangements with the aim of securing the viability of projects which are already underway, avoiding delays where there are other more appropriate mitigations.”

Welcoming the announcement, Eddie Tuttle, Director of Policy, External Affairs and Research at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), said: “The safety of residents and emergency services workers is paramount and can never be understated.

“We have always believed the proposal to mandate secondary staircases for buildings over 18 metres tall to be the best solution as it provides a more comprehensive strategy in ensuring all high-risk buildings have more than one means of a safe entrance and exit.

“Not only does it make exiting buildings in the event of an emergency easier, but it also allows emergency workers to avoid interruption.

“CIOB is delighted the government has listened to our feedback, together with Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and we hope the government will continue to listen to our expertise throughout the remaining lifetime of the evolving Building Safety Act and its secondary legislation.”