Yesterday, 20th January in an announcement in the House of Commons, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said, ‘Secondly, our consultation on sprinklers and other measures for new build flats has now closed. I am carefully considering the responses and evidence received, but I can inform the House today that I am minded to lower the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings from 18 metres to 11 metres. Subject to further consideration, I will set out my detailed proposals in that respect in February.’
This is excellent news. A threshold of 11 metres would mean that apartment buildings with more than four storeys must be sprinklered. The current height threshold is 30 m, corresponding to 10 storeys. Given high land prices, most new apartment buildings in England are higher than four storeys but many are lower than 10. This change would only affect England. Wales already requires sprinklers in all new apartment buildings, as well as houses, while Scotland has announced that it will also require sprinklers in all new apartment buildings and all new social housing.
The same day the British Government published a consultation on ‘‘risk prioritisation in existing buildings‘. The consultation will run for four weeks.
Today, 21 January, the British Government published its response to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. As well as sprinklers, the response covers cladding, risk assessment, regulatory supervision, future legislation and fire service issues.