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Automated Gates Guidance For Developers

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Automated Gates Guidance For Developers

Housing developments are poised for growth in the UK.

With news that the construction industry is well on its way to recovery following the recent economic crisis, combined with the government’s £50 million donation to the Local Growth Fund to unlock locally led housing developments which are struggling to move forward AND the £1 billion fund available as loans to get large scale housing projects off the ground, the future looks rosy for developers.

But with a significant number of new builds / regeneration initiatives anticipated between 2015 and 2020, are the appropriate physical security and access control measures being taken to ensure that the homes created represent not just sustainable, but also safe and secure dwellings?

Gated communities

A gated community can be defined as...

A form of residential community or housing estate containing strictly controlled entrances for pedestrians, bicycles and cars often characterised by a closed perimeter of walls and fences.

This type of residential development is perceived to offer a heightened sense of security to its residents, so it is tragically ironic to note that if the appropriate steps are not taken, these communities can often feature a significant safety hazard …

Electric gates, so often incorporated into a gated development, offer many advantages. First and foremost, they enable total control over which persons / vehicles gain access to the premises, which of course acts as an effective deterrent to any opportunist thieves or vandals, as well as enhancing the personal security of individuals. A smart automated gate will also deliver an imposing first impression and is often used to add to the overall credibility of a prestigious development. Where privacy is a priority, automated gates also provide a highly effective means to screen out the outside world.

No surprise then that the sales of automated gates were deemed to have undergone a 35% increase in the period 2005-2010 and this has been supported by a radical growth in the number of companies operating in the automatic gate market – current estimates suggest over 10,000 in the UK alone.

But whilst automated gates have enjoyed a surge in popularity and feature increasingly on gated communities and within other types of residential setting, the knowledge amongst property developers of the critical steps that must be taken to ensure the safety of these installations – which are in effect machines – remains severely lacking.

Scale of the problem

Gate Safe, the charity established to improve standards in automated gate safety, was set up following the deaths of two children in separate automated gate accidents, both on residential housing developments. Since 2010, the year that Gate Safe was started, there have been 15 accidents including six fatalities involving automated gates.

Recent survey activity by Jacksons Fencing, the company that originally founded the charity has shown that many residential developments continue to feature – clearly unintentionally – unsafe electric gates.

Last week, a major London residential property consultancy aware of the safety issues regarding automated gates, (following the publicity surrounding the £110,000 fines delivered to the two firms found guilty of breaching safety laws for the automated gates that killed five year old Karolina Golabek in Wales, 2010) took the responsible step of requesting an audit of gates featured on 19 of its clients’ properties.

Shockingly, almost 95% of the gates reviewed failed to match the current safety guidelines for automated gates. A further survey a few days later for another London property consultant covering six residential complexes comprising of six properties each, once again revealed a worrying 100% failure rate and these findings are consistent with other surveys carried out by Gate Safe over the years. Indeed the industry estimates that more than 2/3 of all automated gates installed in the UK do not comply with latest legislation and could pose a serious safety risk.

What constitutes safe?

Anyone looking to incorporate automated gates on a housing development should ensure they source an installer who has undergone the relevant specialist practical training to equip them with the required understanding of the steps to be taken to deliver a safe and compliant gate. Gate Safe operates an IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) accredited Gate Safe Aware course and all installers who have taken the training are listed on the Gate Safe website ( A Gate Safe Aware installer will undertake a multiple risk assessment of each installation to check the safety of a gate using the standards to identify the various risks and ensure the gate’s compliance with the technical recommendations.


At very least an automated gate must:

  • comply with the EU Machinery Directive 98/37/EC, be CE marked and be accompanied by a Declaration of Conformity. A gate which is not CE marked may be safe but it is not legal
  • be supported by a minimum of two types of safety feature typically from a choice of safety edges / photo cells and force limitation. Gate Safe always recommends the inclusion of photo cells and safety edges on all automated gates regardless of whether a force limitation device has been installed to ensure the highest level of safety
  • have been checked to ensure the basic mechanical functionality of the gate is in line with current best practice
  • feature segregated pedestrian access and possibly a pedestrian guard rail
  • feature signage to warn of automatic operation
  • be regularly maintained (minimum of every six months) to review the gate / any changes to the site

For more information on safe automated gates for residential developments call 0800 408 2236 or email


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