Are the new safety requirements for two staircases being wilfully ignored by developers in Ealing?  And at what cost?


The big news in the building industry is the imminent new National Building Regulations, stating that no one will be allowed to build any tower block over 30 metres (approx. 10 storeys) unless it has two staircases.

This follows Mayor Khan’s new building safety planning policy also requiring two staircases for any London building over 30m.

This is good news, but a shame that it took a tragedy like Grenfell for it to happen. It should have been implemented years back. But STT has discovered many as yet unbuilt towers, including the controversial Manor Road tower, won’t comply with this post-Grenfell safety standard. 

So what Ealing residents might find unbelievable, is news that work on towers like the Manor Road tower, which is over 30m tall (so would be subject to these safety regulations), are being rushed through, so they commence before these rules come fully into force.  

STT have examined the plans to see if a second staircase has been added. But no – it still only has one and with 18 storeys, a double height mezzanine and a roof plant, taking it up to 21 storeys, it’s double that of the required two staircase height limit. 

The Manor Road tower is a joint project between Southern Grove and well known Housing Association Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH).  Surely a reputable housing association like MTVH is not trying to flout safety rules in Ealing?  

Whilst a short transition period for any new regulation is reasonable, the Manor Road tower site has been derelict for nearly 18 months, with no work begun on the development, so we really hope they’re not trying to rush the start of construction through to get around these crucial national safety regulations?   

There is already a history of sloppy practice on the site since they started to knock the old buildings down. Cracks in the retaining wall above the platform caused trains to be cancelled for days. Poor site security, with site fencing which blew across the pavement in the wind. Seizing public footpaths and leaving dangerous holes in the pavements. All of these safety errors showed little regard for local residents. 

But this time it’s not just flimsy fencing or holes in the pavement.

This is Fire Safety. This is the safety of people living in a tower block and why the new national building regulations and the Mayor’s planning policy both require it. 

MTVH are only too familiar with fire regulations following a fire in one of their properties in Worcester Park in 2019.  So let’s hope they rethink their approach, and redesign the Manor Road tower to ensure the safety of residents is put first. Or better still scrap this controversial scheme altogether. 

Surely Council Leader Pete Mason is not going to stand by and let this happen on his watch?

We’ll leave the last word to the National Fire Chiefs Council [NFCC] (who are pushing for a lower height threshold)  “18 metres … or 7 storeys must become the threshold at which more than one staircase should be required in new residential buildings…. England is one of the few countries in Europe, Australasia, or North America without a height limit on single staircase residential buildings” “Five years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, NFCC are disappointed that not enough progress is being made. … Government must ensure that tall residential buildings are not built by seeking convenient interpretations or loopholes in guidance, or by utilising guidance not intended for buildings of that height…. We must stop adding to the existing stock of single staircase buildings that may in future require additional or costly management practices.

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