Secretary of state determines first floor concrete walkway “adequate means of escape”

Secretary of state determines first floor concrete walkway “adequate means of escape”

24th May 2011

The secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, has determined that a first floor concrete walkway that is part of a compartment floor between a row of ground floor shops and a row of first floor flats “demonstrates compliance with Requirement B1 in relation to the proposed means of escape ….”

However, he has dismissed an appeal against a local government’s refusal to relax requirement B1 (Means of Warning and Escape) of schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2000, ruling that since “compliance with Requirement B1 is a life safety matter and, as such, he would not normally consider it appropriate to either relax or dispense with it, except in exceptional circumstances which do not apply in this case.”

The determination states that the central issue is whether or not a walkway that also serves the function of a roof for several shops should function also as an escape route for the flats above them. It acknowledges that escape routes across roofs are not desirable because they can become obstructed due to lack of maintenance or poor weather conditions. Furthermore, it states that “there can be problems where the owner of a building prevents safe use of a route from another building for reasons of security, although … there will be rights of way in this case for access and emergency purposes.”

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