Housebuilders’ fury over new rules to put bars on first floor windows to stop tall Britons falling

Housebuilders’ fury over new rules that mean they must put bars across first floor windows to stop increasingly tall Britons from falling out

  • Developers argued new building safety regulations left them with few options
  • Whitehall officials warned of fatal accidents in wake of new insulation standards
  • It is understood Housing Department civil servants rejected developers’ protests
  • Industry sources have claimed ‘tens of thousands’ of planned homes could be hit

Housebuilders are furious over new rules that require new homes to have steel bars built across their first floor windows to prevent increasingly tall Britons from falling out.

Developers have argued that the new building safety regulations have left them with the limited options of either make pricey and arduous planning changes, or installing the bars.

The signing off of the changes by ministers was prompted by warnings from Whitehall officials of a surge in fatal accidents in the wake of new insulation standards. This is because the civil servants were expecting more homeowners to attempt to keep their warmer homes cooler in summer by opening first-floor windows.

The Building Regulations 2010 part of the Building Act 1984, must be complied with when it comes to all building work.

The bars set to prevent accidents, which must meet essential safety criteria, could be a single internal bar across a bay window or Georgian bars. 

It is understood by The Telegraph that developers protested the new rules but civil servants belonging to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities rejected them in an email, seen by the newspaper, on August 17.

Housebuilders are furious over new rules that require new homes to have steel bars built across their first floor windows to prevent increasingly tall Britons from falling out. Pictured are some first floor windows in central London

Housebuilders are furious over new rules that require new homes to have steel bars built across their first floor windows to prevent increasingly tall Britons from falling out. Pictured are some first floor windows in central London

Officials said, ‘People through time have become taller and their centre of gravity is higher, which requires a higher guard for their protection.’

They referenced research from the 1990s, as it showed there were roughly 50 fatal falls and 2,300 hospitalisations from windows every year.

A civil servant in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities wrote: ‘While we recognise this data is not up-to-date, data from the past on falls from height can still be informative.

‘It was clear to the department that the new overheating standards could pose a greater risk of falling, that in turn needed enhanced protection.’

It is understood by The Telegraph that developers protested the new rules but civil servants belonging to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (its headquarters are pictured) rejected them in an email, seen by the newspaper, on August 17

It is understood by The Telegraph that developers protested the new rules but civil servants belonging to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (its headquarters are pictured) rejected them in an email, seen by the newspaper, on August 17

The Home Builders Federation described the changes to regulations as ‘ill thought-out and contradictory to other regulations [with] clear aesthetic implications for new homes’.

Industry sources have claimed that ‘tens of thousands’ of planned homes could be hit by the new rules. This comes at a time when the UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss is trying to to encourage more housebuilding.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said: ‘We make no apologies for ensuring buildings are safe. We have engaged extensively with industry on this issue and reject any suggestion that it will delay building the homes the country needs.

‘Housebuilders must take into account the safety of residents when designing opening windows in the first place – they are not required to install bars on first floor windows.’

Source

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