Applies to England
Consultation proposal on options to recommend sprinklers in care homes, remove national classifications from Approved Document B, and recommend a maximum height threshold for the use of one staircase in blocks of flats.
Scope of the consultation
Topic of this consultation:
Proposals to amend Approved Document B to:
a. recommend Sprinklers in new Care Homes, regardless of building height;
b. remove the national classification system for construction products (BS 476 series) - including Class 0 – and require all relevant construction products to be tested to the British Standard version of the European Standard.
c. introduce a threshold whereby residential buildings above 30 metres in height should be designed and built with 2 staircases;
d. launch a call for evidence on revisions to paragraphs 10.6 and 10.7 of Approved Document B covering materials and products used in the construction of external walls.
Scope of this consultation:
Building Regulations – Approved Document B
These proposals relate to England only.
Consultation stage analysis is included in this consultation. Further work will be carried out in advance of a decision following consultation. Changes to the analysis may be made based on responses received.
Body/bodies responsible for the consultation:
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
This consultation will run for 12 weeks, from 23 December 2022 to 17 March 2023.
For any enquiries about the consultation please contact Enquiries.BR@levellingup.gov.uk.
How to respond:
We encourage you to respond by completing an online survey.
Alternatively, you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to ADBconsultation@levellingup.gov.uk.
If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to.
Written responses should be sent to:
Building Safety Programme
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
2 Marsham Street
When you reply it would be very useful if you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include:
- your name,
- your position (if applicable),
- the name of organisation (if applicable),
- an address (including postcode),
- an email address, and
- a contact telephone number
Question 1 - What is your name? [Free Text]
Question 2 - What is your email address [Free Text]
Question 3 - Are you responding as an individual or on behalf of an organisation? [Individual/on behalf of an organisation]
If you answered ‘On behalf of an organisation’ please provide us with the name of your organisation [Free Text]
1. In December 2018 the government issued a call for evidence on the technical review of Approved Document B of the Building Regulations. The call for evidence, which sought views to help set the agenda, terms of reference and programme for the technical review, closed on 15 March 2019. We received 140 detailed responses, including representations from professional and trade bodies with large memberships. We are grateful to all those who contributed.
2. The desire for change was clear from the responses to the call for evidence – but there was also recognition of the need for research to ensure that any changes represent expert consensus based on a robust evidence base. Necessarily, this work will take some years to complete.
3. This consultation follows from the government’s commitment to undertake the technical review of Approved Document B, as outlined in the workplan published in April 2020, and updated in June 2022.
4. The government recognises that there are issues that should be addressed more quickly, and we are committed to taking action where we believe that the case is clear. This consultation considers themes where the technical review has highlighted benefits to life safety, and includes topics identified within the Grenfell Inquiry as areas for consideration.
5. We are now consulting on options for:
a. Providing sprinklers in all new care homes irrespective of height;
b. Removing references to the national classifications (BS 476) from Approved Document B;
c. Implementing a threshold within Approved Document B recommending a second staircase be provided in residential buildings over 30 metres in height, which would introduce a defined threshold for a second stair for the first time; and
d. Launch a call for evidence on revisions to paragraphs 10.6 and 10.7 of Approved Document B covering materials and products used in external walls.
6. Section 14 of the Building Act 1984 requires consultation for proposed substantive changes to the Building Regulations. It has been our practice to carry out a public consultation on proposed changes to the Approved Documents, as the implications of changes can be complex, so consultation adds value.
2. Sprinkler provision in new care homes
7. There is currently no blanket recommendation for sprinklers in all care homes within Approved Document B, however, the benefits of sprinklers are recognised in the guidance. Several allowances are made in Approved Document B for care homes where sprinklers are provided, this includes:
a. fire doors not needing self-closing devices,
b. protected areas that are permitted to accommodate more than 10 beds, and
c. an allowance for individual bedrooms to contain more than one bed.
8. Responses to the 2018 call for evidence showed that the provision of sprinklers to have multiple benefits in care homes, notably to residents and staff wellbeing. Similar views were expressed in response to the 2019 consultation on extending sprinklers to more blocks of flats. Having heard these views, the government committed to relook at the evidence for sprinklers in care homes.
9. Care homes rely on various measures to resist fire spread in the building, aiming to limit the number of people who need to be evacuated initially and protecting residents elsewhere in the building. These measures underpin the progressive horizontal evacuation strategy adopted in care homes. Whilst the analysis indicates the current provisions in Approved Document B are effective overall, we recognise the importance of controlling fire spread where people are likely to rely on the assistance of others to evacuate.
10. Previous research (Work stream 5: sprinkler provisions) had shown that there is an overall cost benefit for sprinklers in care homes, mostly through the protection of property and avoidance of damage.
11. Updated impact analysis – see consultation stage impact assessment below – shows that sprinklers no longer provide an overall cost benefit either for life safety or property protection in care homes. This is generally a result of increased sprinkler costs and a decrease in fire incidents and associated deaths and injuries.
12. Despite this, many care home providers and designers choose to install sprinklers above the minimum recommendations of Approved Document B, which reduces the additional cost on industry of any additional Approved Document B recommendation for sprinklers.
13. Care homes are important community asset, and fire incidents can require rehoming residents, possibly away from their local area, which can be distressing to the people living there and to their families. Sprinklers control the fire size and reduce damage, minimising the risk of residents needing to be rehomed. This benefit has not been monetised in the impact analysis due to limited data.
14. Having considered the evidence, and the non-monetisable benefits, the government is minded to proceed with a change to Approved Document B, with the focus of this consultation seeking views on updating Approved Document B to recommend sprinklers in all care homes, irrespective of height.
15. The preferred policy option, installing sprinklers into all new care homes regardless of height, is estimated to have a total cost of £161.5 million to businesses, with around £35.0 million in benefits to society. The additional net present cost to society is approximately £126.1 million over 10 years, and the benefit cost ratio (BCR) is 0.22. The equivalent annual net direct cost to business (EANDCB) is estimated to be £18.7 million.
16. We are aware that there are some smaller group homes that provide care, or larger buildings that include a small floor or annex for those with additional care needs, which will fall within scope of our recommendation for sprinklers. We welcome views on these situations as to whether a recommendation for sprinklers would be disproportionate.
17. An alternative approach would be to consider 10 beds as the threshold value, representing a perceived change in the level risk in the building associated with an increased consequence of early fire spread, and/or delays in evacuation. 10 beds is already adopted in Approved Document B as a protected area threshold and is similar to the 10 resident threshold adopted in BS 9251 for designing between Category 2 or 3 sprinkler systems.
18. Approved Document B currently recommends for care homes a maximum of 10 beds in each protected area, no more than one bed per room, and self-closers on fire door sets to bedrooms that return the door to a closed position when released. These provisions, control the extent of area that is initially affected by a fire, allowing the available staff to respond and evacuate residents.
19. There are relaxations where sprinklers are provided, allowing for larger protected areas with more than 10 beds, more than one bed per bedroom, and fire doors without self-closing devices. The allowances are a recognition of the benefit that sprinklers provide in controlling fire size, protecting adjoining rooms, and extending the time available to evacuate residents. Whilst allowances are made for the size of protected areas, it remains a recommendation in Approved Document B that at least 3 protected areas are provided on each storey.
20. There is evidence (Sprinkler effectiveness in care homes: final research report: BD 2546 (PDF, 1.55MB) that in most situations where a sprinkler operates, other occupants within a room should survive. There are arguments that due to the importance of controlling fire and smoke spread, there may be benefit in the added resilience of retaining physical fire separation. We are interested in receiving evidence and views for whether the allowances should be retained or extended.
Design for sprinkler provision
21. We intend to recommend sprinklers are provided to the recent BS 9251:2021. The new 2021 standard extends the provision of sprinklers into some bathrooms, shower rooms and toilets and some stairs, but brings savings elsewhere through clarifications which results in an overall negligible cost uplift over the previous standard. The 2021 standard also represents the latest consensus view on sprinkler design and installation, and we consider the performance necessary for care homes without causing a disproportionate burden on design or installation costs.
22. We do not intend, at this stage, to provide for additional sprinkler provisions for other types of buildings and this consultation does not cover retrofitting sprinklers in existing buildings not undertaking buildings works. There is ongoing work looking at fire risk in specialised housing, and there is a separate discussion and a more complex case on retrofitting fire protection in existing buildings, which will not form part of this consultation for Approved Document B. It may not be a simple case for installing sprinklers in some existing buildings, and therefore a more bespoke approach is necessary.
23. There remain clear requirements for fire risk assessments under Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 which require the responsible person to demonstrate how they are managing fire safety in their buildings.
24. We propose a transitional period of 6 months before the changes would apply. This is in line with previous changes to the Building Regulations and will ensure that industry and the sector at large has enough time to adapt to these changes.
Consultation stage impact assessment
25. Our assessment of the costs and benefits of providing sprinklers in care homes focussed on 3 areas i) the cost to construction and impact on supply, ii) the benefits to life safety and iii) the benefits in terms of property protection. We have also identified the value for wellbeing that would be required to achieve a neutral cost-benefit.
26. Sprinklers provide another layer of protection to ensure that fire spread is controlled, there is also secondary benefit to the wellbeing of residents, staff, and their loved ones in knowing there are additional measures in place to provide this. Benefits include:
a. reduced risk of fatality or injury during a fire
b. reduced risk of property damage
c. additional time to evacuate through further control on fire spread
d. reduced likelihood for evacuation of compartments beyond the fire affected area
e. reduced likelihood of residents needing to be rehomed
f. increase in wellbeing for residents, staff and families
27. The department commissioned research in 2006 (PDF, 1.55MB) to consider the life safety benefits of sprinklers in residential care homes. The results of this research found that many fires involved resident’s bedding and clothing, e.g., through being ignited through smoking. The research showed that sprinklers were unlikely to operate quickly enough to prevent death or serious injury of the person directly affected. The research also showed that in most situations where sprinklers operated, they were effective at protecting other people in the room.
28. In 2012 CFOA commissioned analysis (PDF, 1.05MB) that found that sprinklers were cost effective for all care homes for elderly, children and disabled people. Most of this benefit was provided through the prevention of property damage. For care homes for elderly people, sprinklers reduced deaths by 62%, injuries by 73% and property damage by 86%.
29. In 2015 the department commissioned desk-based research on sprinklers (Work stream 5: sprinkler provisions) which included care homes. This was principally looking at life safety and specifically considered building height. The effectiveness of sprinklers in care homes was updated and calculated to reduce deaths by 41%, injuries by 12% and property damage by 94%. This concluded that care homes were expected to provide a net cost benefit from the installation of sprinklers above 30m. It was acknowledged that the benefit was largely a result of increased property protection.
30. These benefits to life safety are clearly a significant consideration, we consider sprinklers provide particular benefit for low frequency, high consequence, incidents where there is unexpected early fire spread and delays in evacuation. The addition of sprinklers would provide another layer of protection to control fire and help avoid multi fatality incidents arising from early fire spread.
31. We estimate that introducing sprinklers in new build care homes and extensions will come with an equivalised annual net cost to business of £18.7 million, and a net present cost to society of £126.1 million. The equivalised annual net cost to business per year with the 10-bed threshold, comes to £13 million a year, and a net present cost to society of £82.2 million, this is around a 30% decrease in costs.
32. Costs are based on an average cost per care home of installing a sprinkler system of between £30,000 - £393,000, although costs can vary widely so for a small number of new buildings the costs could be significantly higher or lower. To ensure the sprinkler systems are effective they will require maintenance, we have estimated this to cost between an additional £160 - £2,300 per care home per year.
33. The non-monetised benefits above have not been estimated due to limited evidence/data to base this on. The most significant non-monetised benefit is expected to be the improved wellbeing of residents and family members through reduced fear of future fires. This particularly applies to residents that are unable to self-evacuate in the event of a fire. Across our low/medium/high cost scenarios this would require a wellbeing increase equivalent to around £189 per year per resident when excluding a 10-bed threshold, or £159 per resident per year with.
34. All estimates are in present value, with an appraisal period of 2022 to 2031, in 2022 prices. These estimates assume that the lifetime of a care home is 60 years.
35. Introducing the sprinkler threshold will deliver life, health and property benefits and provide visible reassurance that the new care home is safe for occupants, owners and other interested parties such as relatives and care providers.
Consultation questions for the provision of sprinklers
Question 4 – Do you agree that sprinklers protection should be extended to new care homes of any height? [Agree/disagree]
Question 5 – Alternatively, would you agree with the proposal if it included a 10 bed threshold? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 6 – We welcome views on whether there are any exemptions you would include, what they are, and your evidence supporting their exclusion. [Free text]
Question 7 – Do you agree that Approved Document B should remove the current allowances when sprinklers are provided? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 8 – Which allowances do you think should be provided and what evidence do you have to support your view? [Free text]
Question 9 – Do you agree that Approved Document B should recommend sprinklers to the new BS 9251:2021 standard? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 10 – If you disagree, what other standards would you suggest, and what is your evidence to support using the alternative standards? [Free text]
Question 11 – Do you agree that there should be a transitional period of 6 months? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 12 – If you disagree, how long should the transition period be? [Free text]
3. Removal of national classifications
36. Much of the guidance in Approved Document B is given in terms of performance classifications in relation to British Standards or British versions of European Standards.
37. Since the early 2000’s England has operated with a dual approach to performance classification for reaction to fire and fire resistance of construction products. The use of the British Standards version of the European Classification has removed the need for the national classification to remain in use, and in line with longstanding departmental ambitions we are proposing to remove the national classification from Approved Document B in its entirety and utilise the more robust internationally recognised approach.
38. During the early years, running the dual system enabled a transition to take place, and be replaced by the more robust and up to date international standard, but the transition was never finalised. On the expectation that the national classification system would be withdrawn, the BS 476 series standards have not been reviewed by the British Standards Institution in detail for some time (over 20 years on average). Recent changes to Approved Document B have also emphasised the use of the BS EN 13501 series of tests over the use of national classes (BS 476)
39. As part of the department’s impact analysis – see consultation stage impact assessment below – we assessed the potential impact for industry, identifying the key products that would be most impacted. Our market analysis has identified that most businesses currently have their products tested to the international standard, and only a small subset of the market has not. Our analysis is currently focusing in the following areas as the ones more likely continue the use of national classification: roofing materials, cavity barriers, smoke extraction (including fire dampers etc.) and fire doors.
40. During the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the use of the national classification standards for reaction to fire and fire resistance in Approved Document B came under scrutiny, and potential flaws in its use were identified. The criticism focused on the BS 476 series, known as the national classes, for reaction to fire and fire resistance.
41. In response, the department removed reference to the national classifications from the main body of Approved Document B in 2019, and it is now only included within the annex. In the next update to Approved Document B the department plans to remove the remaining reference to all aspects of the BS 476 series.
42. Given the time that has elapsed since the introduction of the British Standard version of European Classification in the early 2000’s, but ongoing capacity issues for product testing, and the disruption that would be caused for some industries, the department is proposing a 12-month transition period upon implementing the changes.
Consultation stage impact assessment
43. Our preferred policy allows the government to deliver on its long-held ambition to remove the national classification system. While impacting certain industries more than others, the scale of the impact is minimal, and the supporting transition period will further smooth the final transition. Our analysis identified 4 construction products who would be most impacted under this policy, and these are cavity barriers, fire doors, smoke vents, and roofs.
44. Under the preferred policy option, those manufacturers identified who are not currently testing to BS-EN standards will need to complete product tests and relabelling to ensure they meet the new standards. These costs are referred to as ‘manufacturer costs’ and are all one-off transition costs which include:
a. Cost of product tests.
b. Administration costs for product tests.
c. Cost of relabelling products.
45. Additionally, under our preferred policy option, developers and builders in the fire door market will be subject to significant cost increases when purchasing fire doors because of the transition to BS EN testing standards. This is because approach is more restrictive in some aspects and is aligned to international market practices for the provision of doors. These could make it more expensive for builders and developers to purchase, with external market research estimating the additional cost range for full door sets to be between 50-100% that of individual components. These costs are referred to as ‘developer costs’.
46. Overall, the preferred policy option is estimated to provide a total developer and manufacturer cost of £76 million over 10 years. Most of this cost is driven by developer costs, around £69 million over 10 years. The equivalent annual net direct cost to business (EANDCB) of the central scenario is estimated to be £9 million a year. These estimates are in present value, with an appraisal period of 2022 to 2031, in 2022 prices.
Consultation questions for the removal of national classifications
Question 13 – Do you agree that the national classifications for reaction to fire should be removed from Approved Document B? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 14 – Do you agree that the national classifications for fire resistance should be removed from Approved Document B? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 15 – If you disagree, what evidence can you provide that outlines why the national classifications are still required. [Free text]
Question 16 – Do you agree that there should be a transitional period of twelve months? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 17 - If you disagree, how long should the transition period be and what is your evidence to support a longer or shorter transition period? [Free text]
Question 18 – Please outline any concerns you have about the withdrawal of the national classification with regards to fire resistance including potential impacts, such as on the fire door industry. [Free text]
4. Staircases in residential buildings
47. Currently, for blocks of flats, Approved Document B does not set a threshold above which more than one staircase must be considered.
48. The department is concerned that some tall residential buildings are being designed with a single staircase without due consideration by the designers on the level of safety provided and the necessary resilience. We are therefore consulting on options to introduce clear guidance in Approved Document B recommending the provision of a second staircase above a certain height.
49. This new provision would, for the first time in England, set a maximum height for using a single staircase in residential buildings creating clear guidance for designers to make sure that residential buildings achieve an appropriate level of safety.
50. Staircases provide an essential means of escape for residents in the event of an emergency and provide the emergency services with a point of access to all floors of the building. It is our view that the provisions of a second staircase can provide some benefits for very tall residential buildings such as added resilience for extreme events and reduced conflicts between emergency responders entering a building and those trying to escape, reducing the risk of the smoke ingress into an “escape” stairwell. In addition, the provision of a second staircase, residents will have an alternative means of escape in the event one route became filled with smoke.
51. As a new threshold is being developed, there is a need to review the evidence base and more fully understand the risks. Concerns have been raised, for example, that the provision of a second staircase could make developments unviable due to a reduction of saleable floor space and increase costs.
52. When considering the benefits of an additional staircase, evidence suggests that not all second staircases provide the same level of benefit. For example, the provision of a second staircase, in the form of a scissor or interlocking staircase, does not provide protection against the spread of smoke. The threshold being proposed will also include sufficient distance and fire resisting separation between entry points to independent staircases. This approach would reduce the risk of smoke entering both staircases, provides operational support to the fire services and make sure that buildings benefit fully from the provision of a second staircase.
53. The proposed changes to the provision of single stairs within Approved Document B will only apply to new residential buildings. There is no evidence that suggest that existing buildings with a single stair above the proposed threshold pose a life safety risk.
54. For buildings that will be in scope of the new building safety regime, we intend to introduce a safety case regime which will require an accountable person to demonstrate how they are managing fire and structural risks on an ongoing basis. This system will require the accountable person to take all reasonable steps to ensure they have effective and proportionate measures in place to manage building safety risks and that appropriate level of protection is provided in buildings in scope of the new regime.
55. The department has already made several changes to the guidance in Approved Document B. Since 2017 the department has:
a. implemented the combustible materials ban for residential buildings, hospitals and student accommodation above 18 metres and provided new guidance for residential buildings between 11 metres to 18 metres.
b. lowered the threshold for the provision of sprinklers in new blocks of flats from 30 metres+ to 11 metres+
c. made provisions for wayfinding signage for fire fighters in residential buildings above 11 metres
d. provided additional guidance on evacuation alert systems in new residential buildings over 18 metres in height
56. 30 metres is an accepted threshold for increased safety measures such as increased fire resistance provisions and marks a recognised trigger representing an increase in the level of risks in buildings overall. We therefore propose to introduce a new trigger in Approved Document B making provisions such that new residential buildings more than 30 metres are provided with a second staircase.
57. There is no standard international approach to the provision of staircases within residential buildings of height. The approaches taken by other countries, varies greatly depending on other fire mitigation measures such as travel distances, provision of sprinklers, compartmentation, cavity barriers etc. Where other countries set a maximum height for the provision of single stairs, this ranges from 18m to 75m in height.
58. Recognising that many schemes are in development, and this change would represent a significant change, we are proposing a very short transition period before implementing the changes.
59. The transition period will allow time for schemes to be completed but should not allow the opportunity for developments to get off the ground ahead of the new requirements coming into effect.
60. We would encourage all developments to prepare for this change now.
Consultation stage impact assessment
61. Overall, the preferred policy option to introduce a 30 metres+ height threshold, is estimated to provide a total present cost of £1.6 billion to businesses / society over 10 years, with an equivalent annual net direct cost to business (EANDCB) of around £181 million.
62. Across the 4 options, the total present cost to business varies from around £800 million for a 50 metres+ threshold, £2.5 billion for an 18 metres+ threshold, and £3.7 billion for an 11 metres+ threshold. The EANDCB estimated varies from around £93 million a year for a 50 metres+ threshold, £292 million a year for an 18 metres+ threshold, and around £432 million a year for a 11 metres+ threshold.
63. All estimates are in present value, with appraisal period of 2022 to 2031, in 2022 prices. The lifetime of a building is expected to be around 60 years, which is used for both costs and benefits (estimated below).
64. Under each policy option, developers must install second staircases in a tall residential building. The policy options differentiate by the height threshold at which a second staircase must be installed, from 11m+, 18m+, 30m+ and 50m+ buildings. The costs covered are broken into 2 groups, annual costs and transition costs.
a. Capital cost of a new staircase
b. Change in property value as a result of installing a second staircase
c. Replacement costs of the second staircase
d. Redesign costs
65. The costs of a second staircase will also impact the viability of high rise buildings, this is likely to reduce the amount of affordable housing that can be provided by developers.
66. Fire risk benefits have not been monetised due to limited evidence, these are instead captured through illustrative analysis. Other non-monetised benefits have been detailed qualitatively. The main benefits of this policy are expected to be:
a. Reduction in injuries and fatalities from fires for residents and risk to Fire and Rescue Services
b. Improved evacuation strategies for physically disabled residents, for instance, in cases of isolated fires, alternative staircases can be used to avoid smoke inhalation.
c. Wellbeing improvement due to reduced fear of future fires for residents / family members
67. Illustrative analysis has been developed to showcase the potential reduction in injuries and fatalities for a second staircase. As above, the evidence behind the benefits of a second staircase is limited, and therefore the illustrative analysis will only act as an indicator of the potential benefits a second staircase may offer. Many of the assumptions used here are broad and not based off prior evidence.
68. The illustrative analysis uses 3 different scenarios of potential incidents, including:
a. Hypothetical major incident – leading to large number of fatalities and injuries
b. Hypothetical medium incident – leading to some fatalities and injuries
c. Hypothetical contained incidents where accidental injuries may occur during a residents’ voluntary self-evacuation, such as trips and falls.
69. In total, for the preferred policy option, the hypothetical benefits (at around £198 million) make up around 13% of the £1.6 billion in second staircase costs. This is primarily from avoiding accidental injuries from voluntary self-evacuation under the hypothetical contained incidents. The hypothetical major and medium incidents are expected to be highly infrequent amongst new build houses, resulting in low monetisable benefits.
70. Switching analysis on how much of a wellbeing improvement would be needed to make this policy cost neutral (excluding the illustrative analysis above) finds that each resident in 11 to 18 metres buildings would need to value a second staircase at £169 a year, 18 metres to 30 metres at £168/year, 30 to 50 metres at £160/year and 50 metres+ residents at £151/year for the policy to be cost-neutral.
Consultation questions for the inclusion of a new threshold for use of single staircases
Question 19 – Do you agree that Approved Document B should include a maximum threshold for the provision of a single staircase in residential buildings? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 20 – Do you agree with our proposed threshold of 30 metres+? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 21 – If you disagree with the proposed threshold, at what height do you think the threshold should be set? [Free text]
Question 22 – What evidence do you have to support this threshold? [Free text]
Question 23 – Do you agree that additional measure should be provided to ensure sufficient separation between staircases? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 24 – What additional measures should be provided to ensure the appropriate separation between staircases? Please provide any additional evidence to support your view [Free text]
Question 25 – Do you have a view on how long the transitional should be, and what evidence do you have to support your proposed transition? [Free text]
5. Paragraph 10.6 and 10.7 – call for evidence
71. Approved Document B includes provisions to restrict the combustibility of insulation materials used on external walls, which were criticised during the Grenfell Tower Inquiry as lacking clarity.
Materials and products
10.6 In a building with a storey 18m or more in height (see Diagram D6 in Appendix D) any insulation product, filler material (such as the core materials of metal composite panels, sandwich panels and window spandrel panels but not including gaskets, sealants and similar) etc. used in the construction of an external wall should be class A2-s3, d2 or better (see Appendix B). This restriction does not apply to masonry cavity wall construction which complies with Diagram 8.2 in Section 8. Where regulation 7(2) applies, that regulation prevails over all the provisions in this paragraph.
10.7 In buildings that include a ‘residential’ purpose (purpose groups 1 and 2) with a storey 11m or more in height (see Diagram D6 in Appendix D) any insulation product, filler material (such as the core materials of metal composite panels, sandwich panels and window spandrel panels but not including gaskets, sealants and similar) etc. used in the construction of an external wall should be class A2-s1, d0 or better (see Appendix B). This restriction does not apply to masonry cavity wall construction which complies with Diagram 8.2 in Section 8. Where regulation 7(2) applies, that regulation prevails over all the provisions in this paragraph.
72. We are considering a revision of the relevant paragraphs in Approved Document B and are seeking views on how best to improve the guidance and ensure it is as clear as possible.
73. Our intention is through this consultation to launch a call for evidence to determine the materials which should be captured in these provisions and how to improve the clarity of wording describing these.
74. It is also our intention to use this opportunity to consult widely following this call for evidence to ensure that we get the wording of this important clause of the approved document as clear as possible. Following this wide-ranging consultation exercise, we will then consider our next step to amend the guidance which will likely involve a new public consultation.
Question 26 – Do you agree further consideration is needed to clarify the paragraph? [Agree/Disagree]
Question 27 – If you agree, please outline what materials would you cover in the paragraphs and what is your evidence to support this? [Free text]
6. Assessment of impacts
75. A further assessment of impacts will be made following consideration of consultation responses and alongside the development of any provisions.
Question 28 – Please provide any additional evidence on costs, risks and benefits which should be considered in an assessment of impacts in the following areas.
a) Sprinklers in Care Homes and in housing for vulnerable people, regardless of building height
b) removing the national classification (BS 476 series) from Approved Document B
c) Residential Buildings above 30m in height being recommended to include 2 staircases
Question 29 - Are you aware of any particular equalities impacts for these proposals? How could any adverse impact be reduced and are there any ways we could better advance equality of opportunity or foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not? Please provide evidence to support your response.
Question 30 – Are you aware of any particular environmental impacts for these proposals? How could any adverse impact be reduced and are there any opportunities to advance positive environmental impacts? Please provide evidence to support your response.
About this consultation
This consultation document and consultation process have been planned to adhere to the Consultation Principles issued by the Cabinet Office.
Representative groups are asked to give a summary of the people and organisations they represent, and where relevant who else they have consulted in reaching their conclusions when they respond.
Information provided in response to this consultation may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and UK data protection legislation. In certain circumstances this may therefore include personal data when required by law.
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Note that this section only refers to personal data (your name, contact details and any other information that relates to you or another identified or identifiable individual personally) not the content otherwise of your response to the consultation.
1. The identity of the data controller and contact details of our Data Protection Officer
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is the data controller. The Data Protection Officer can be contacted at email@example.com or by writing to the following address:
Data Protection Officer
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
2 Marsham Street
2. Why we are collecting your personal data
Your personal data is being collected as an essential part of the consultation process, so that we can contact you regarding your response and for statistical purposes. We may also use it to contact you about related matters.
We will collect your IP address if you complete a consultation online. We may use this to ensure that each person only completes a survey once. We will not use this data for any other purpose.
Sensitive types of personal data
Please do not share special category personal data or criminal offence data if we have not asked for this unless absolutely necessary for the purposes of your consultation response. By ‘special category personal data’, we mean information about a living individual’s:
- ethnic origin
- political opinions
- religious or philosophical beliefs
- trade union membership
- health (including disability-related information)
- sex life; or
- sexual orientation.
By ‘criminal offence data’, we mean information relating to a living individual’s criminal convictions or offences or related security measures.
3. Our legal basis for processing your personal data
The department has a statutory duty to consult on these regulations.
The collection of your personal data is lawful under article 6(1)(e) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation as it is necessary for the performance by DLUHC of a task in the public interest/in the exercise of official authority vested in the data controller. Section 8(d) of the Data Protection Act 2018 states that this will include processing of personal data that is necessary for the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department i.e. in this case a consultation.
Where necessary for the purposes of this consultation, our lawful basis for the processing of any special category personal data or ‘criminal offence’ data (terms explained under ‘Sensitive Types of Data’) which you submit in response to this consultation is as follows. The relevant lawful basis for the processing of special category personal data is Article 9(2)(g) UK GDPR (‘substantial public interest’), and Schedule 1 paragraph 6 of the Data Protection Act 2018 (‘statutory etc and government purposes’). The relevant lawful basis in relation to personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences data is likewise provided by Schedule 1 paragraph 6 of the Data Protection Act 2018.
4. With whom we will be sharing your personal data
DLUHC, as required, will share data with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and with consultants who we employ for advice on issues raised in the consultation. Where we do, we will ensure that the processing of your personal data remains in strict accordance with the requirements of the data protection legislation.
5. For how long we will keep your personal data, or criteria used to determine the retention period
Your personal data will be held for 2 years from the closure of the consultation, unless we identify that its continued retention is unnecessary before that point
6. Your rights, e.g. access, rectification, restriction, objection
The data we are collecting is your personal data, and you have considerable say over what happens to it.
You have the right:
a. to see what data we have about you
b. to ask us to stop using your data, but keep it on record
c. to ask to have your data corrected if it is incorrect or incomplete
d. to object to our use of your personal data in certain circumstances
e. to lodge a complaint with the independent Information Commissioner (ICO) if you think we are not handling your data fairly or in accordance with the law. You can contact the ICO at https://ico.org.uk/, or telephone 0303 123 1113.
Please contact us at the following address if you wish to exercise the rights listed above, except the right to lodge a complaint with the ICO:
Knowledge and Information Access Team
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
2 Marsham Street
7. Your personal data will not be sent overseas
8. Your personal data will not be used for any automated decision making
9. Your personal data will be stored in a secure government IT system
We use a third-party system, Citizen Space, to collect consultation responses. In the first instance your personal data will be stored on their secure UK-based server. Your personal data will be transferred to our secure government IT system as soon as possible, and it will be stored there for 2 years before it is deleted.