The London Plan and Fire Safety
Introduced by the Mayor of London, the first London Plan was adopted in 2004 as a road map for the future development of the city. This blueprint was designed as a direct answer to the projected population increase to approximately 10.8 million by 2041. Each Local Planning Authority in London has to take the Plan into account when they make decisions on development proposals. The most recent Plan was amended in 2019 and runs to 2041.
There are several sections to the Plan that set out what should be considered during development planning. They are organised into:
- Good growth
- Spatial development
- Social infrastructure
- Heritage and culture
- Green infrastructure and natural environment
- Sustainable infrastructure
- Transport funding
For each, instructions are included on how all these aspects should be implemented and delivered.
Its comprehensive strategy is designed with sustainability throughout and for the support and wellbeing of all Londoners.
What’s that got to do with fire safety?
Part B of Building Regulations covers fire safety compliance, and the London Plan runs alongside this. It states all planning proposals in London must “create a safe and secure environment which is resilient to the impact of emergencies including fire and terrorism”.
Policy D12 in the plan focusses on three important aspects of fire safety:
- Reducing risk to life
- Minimising the risk of fire spread
- Providing suitable means to evacuate and escape in the event of a building fire.
Interestingly, there is quite an emphasis on resilience and inclusive design and the policy is written in the same vein. It states that access and inclusion must be part of all fire safety design and evacuation procedures.
High standards for fire safety are emphasised throughout the document, with an emphasis on development proposals constructed in a way that minimises the risk of fire spread. The plan states quite categorically that all considerations for fire safety should be established at the earliest stage possible for the benefit and safety of all Londoners and always with the early involvement of the Fire Commissioner.
When a fire does occur, new developments must have appropriate active and passive fire safety measures and alarms.
The policy doesn’t stop at buildings either. Developments need to be designed in an area large enough to accommodate unobstructed outside space, enough for fire appliances to approach safely and for evacuation assembly of building occupants. All planning must also include regularly updated strategies that set down fire evacuation procedures.
What does the London Plan policy cover?
Most importantly, the policy calls for development proposals to have a Fire Statement written by an independent assessor not linked to the developer. In this statement, there should be six key features:
- Details of how the building will be constructed in terms of materials and their manufacturer and methods of construction.
- An evacuation strategy that sets out how the occupants and users will evacuate the building. Careful consideration must be taken for disabled users and the safe and dignified evacuation of all occupants.
- Products that reduce fire risk, including, but not limited to alarm systems, fire safety and suppression measures and their planned management and maintenance.
- Access, systems and supplies for the fire service and strategies for their management and maintenance.
- Details of how the fire service appliances access the site, how they can be positioned best to reach the fire and how the spaces are to be kept clear.
- How future modifications will take all the measures in place into consideration to reduce fire risk and spread.
All this is to show a joined-up collaborative approach to the safety of Londoners.
The London Plan and balconies
As part of policy D12 balconies must be constructed with non-combustible materials including decking pedestals and drainage. Sapphire Glide-On™ balconies are made with 100% non-combustible materials with the drainage system contained within the Cassette®.
Concrete balconies on the other hand, often use combustible waterproofing membranes and decking support systems. Glide-On™ balconies are prefinished offsite and arrive ready for install, with decking, drainage and soffits in place.
Collaborative planning is a major theme throughout the London Plan, and fire safety is no exception. Its reach is not just for new developments either. It is expected that developers will be required to refurbish existing buildings as a matter of priority. Both the plan and the policy aim to gain the confidence of Londoners to show the city is taking fire safety very seriously.
The full Policy D12 Fire Safety can be found on page 162 of the London Plan.