Gove’s transitional period gives a tighter window to get schemes started than current regulations - meaning housebuilders may hold off applying for building regulations approval for schemes until they are sure they can build within 18 months

Housebuilders may delay applying for building regulations approval for schemes with single staircases due to the rules under the 30-month grace period, the Housing Forum has said.

Housing secretary Gove last week announced a 30-month transition period for schemes to comply with new regulations requiring second staircases in residential blocks over 18m.

For 30 months after regulations are changed, housebuilders will be able to choose whether to apply for approval under the existing guidance, which permits single staircases in blocks over 18m, or the new guidance requiring a second staircase.

However, Gove announced last week schemes being built in this 30-month transition period under the old rules would have to be started within 18 months of building regulation plans being deposited.

The Housing Forum said this is less than the 36 months allowed under the 1984 Building Act.

Anna Clarke, a spokesperson for the membership network, said: “Housebuilders are likely to respond by delaying submitting applications for approval until they are in a position where they’re confident of starting work within 18 months.”

However, she added that it will need to see the details of the rules to ensure this reading is correct.

The Housing Forum has suggested a simpler 48-month deadline to start work on site might be easier than setting an 18-month window once plans are approved.

A spokesperson for DLUHC said: “We believe 18 months is the most appropriate timeframe for this type of building which will allow the vast majority of projects already underway to continue as planned.”

>>See also: What the second staircase rule would mean for high-rise blocks

In his announcement to parliament last week Gove said the Building Safety Regulator is working to agree design details that will go into changes to approved document B of the building regulations.

He said, “The Building Safety Regulator is working to agree these rapidly, and I will make a further announcement soon.”

In August the Housing Forum said the failure of the government to issue detailed transitional arrangements along with some idea of how the guidance will approach the second staircase requirement risked “significantly reducing” housing supply. It said one of its members had put plans for 38 blocks under review due to the proposals.

Developers including Peabody, Hill 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.

An analysis by LSH and Connells in May said up to 125,000 homes across 243 schemes could ultimately end up mothballed by the new rules.