Spread of Fire: risk assurance

This page has been prepared for Councillor Paul Church (Deputy Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Public Health, West End Ward).


There is a boundary that separates the rear of the residences in Middleton Place and the rear of the office block at 84-86 Great Portland Street. This boundary consists of two walls built back-to-back. One wall is owned by the office block, the other by the residents of Middleton Place:

The office wall is a consistent height along its length. The height of the residents’ wall varies and in places it is higher than the office wall while in other places it is lower.

In 2016/2017 the office landlords (Great Portland Estates) carried out construction work on their wall, including the insertion of steel beams into the wall. These steel beams broke through the office wall and meet the residents’ wall.

The residents are seeking assurance that this construction work complies with ‘The Building Regulations 2010, Fire Safety’ (link to official document here).

Agreed Facts

Great Portland Estates (GPE) have agreed that their wall is of existing masonry construction and that it has been modified by the setting of new steelwork into the wall.

Additionally, in his email of 3rd February 2016, John Pitman of Butler & Young, the Approved Inspectors appointed by GPE, has indicated that this modification falls under Section 13.13 of the Building Regulations 2010, Fire Safety:

Mr Pitman’s email does address part (a) of Section 13.13.  However, it does not address part (b) which stipulates that the wall be “fire-resisting from both sides”:

The residents believe that the wall is not fire-resisting from both sides. Consequently we are seeking assurance that:

  • either, Section 13.13 of the Building Regulations 2010 (Spread of Fire) does not apply,
  • or, the work on the wall is compliant with the regulations,
  • or, that it is not compliant but it has been assessed and is not considered a risk,
  • or, that it is not compliant and remedial work will be undertaken.


It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, yet our surveyor Mark Behan has been seeking this specific information since January 2017 and has not had a satisfactory response from GPE or its representatives.

GPE had been covering Mark’s costs as part of the project but Mark wrote to us recently to say “they are not going to pay for any of my time to look at building Act/Regs matters”.

Westminster Council (in particular Chidi Freeman) have been helpful but unfortunately the works in question were not overseen by Westminster District Surveyors. In the absence of a satisfactory response from GPE, the Council have advised us to seek assurance directly from Butler & Young, the approved inspectors appointed by GPE (application 15.02475.IN):

Butler & Young Ltd
Unit 10 Airport House
Purley Way
Tel: 0203 384 7730

Cllr Paul Church has kindly agreed to make the request for this assurance on behalf of the residents.