Sadiq Khan warns 38,000 homes are on hold amid confusion over new rules

The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has confirmed it is expecting to publish its long-awaited technical guidance on second staircases rules in the next few days.

A spokesperson for the BSR, which sits within the Health and Safety Executive, told Housing Today it is ”still expected that the guidance will be published by the end of March”.

This comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan said work on 38,000 homes has been halted due to uncertainty caused by the lack of technical guidance.

Khan said: “It has now been over a year since the government launched the consultation on the requirement for second staircases and they have yet to publish the technical details. This delay has resulted in many developers deciding not to pursue their proposals until there is clarity on the requirements.

>>See also: Housebuilders hit out at continuing delay to crucial second staircases guidance

“The current number of schemes referable to me affected by this delay is now nearly 38,000 .”

DLUHC in December 2022 published a consultation paper on plans to mandate second staircases on blocks over 30m in height, subsequently reduced to 18m.

However, developers have been putting schemes on hold in order to see the technical guidance so they know what is required before deciding how to change their planned developments. The government has yet to publish guidance on the technical detail, design or specification of second staircases.

A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation in January said: “In the absence of any clear design standards from the government, clients are inevitably insisting on specifications well in excess of what is required for domestic residential schemes.

“The vacuum created is causing huge uncertainty and frustration, increasing costs and amidst a housing crisis, thwarting the delivery of apartment schemes.”

Developers including PeabodyHill and Land Securities have all admitted to having put schemes on hold or into redesign due to the second staircase mandate, while Berkeley has said it could shift to low-rise building.

In October, housing secretary Michael Gove announced a 30-month grace period allowing developers time to adjust to the rules.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: ”The Building Safety Regulator is still aiming to publish this by the end of the month.”