Last edited 23 Sep 2020

High-rise building


A high-rise building is defined variously as a building in which:

  • The number of storeys means occupants need to use a lift to reach their destination
  • The height is beyond the reach of available fire-fighting equipment.
  • The height can have a serious impact on evacuation.

Typically this is considered to include buildings of more than 7-10 storeys or 23-30 m, although the Home Quality Mark defines high rise as a building that is 18 meters or over (the height historically linked with the reach of fire and rescue service equipment) and this height has also been adopted by guidance following the Hackett Review. However, in January 2020, following a fire in a block of student accommodation (which was just under 18m) in Bolton in 2019, the government launched a consultation including proposals to lower the 18m height threshold for 'high-rise' to 11m.

For more information see: Fire at The Cube, Bolton and Reform of building safety standards.

A low-rise building is one which is not tall enough to be classified as high-rise.

Other definitions of buildings in relation to their height include:

NB Building a Safer Future, Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report (the Hackitt review) published in 2018 following the Grenfell Tower Fire defined higher risk residential buildings (HRRB) as: ‘new and existing high-rise residential properties which are 10 storeys high or more… For the avoidance of doubt, this 10-storey threshold would apply to mixed-use buildings of this height if part of it was residential.’

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