City Centre building collapse was inevitable

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

City Centre building collapse was inevitable thumbnailNEWRY and Mourne Council have suggested the collapse of the building on Canal Street was inevitable. NM2648

The former Convent building on Newry's Canal street is among several which have had to be demolished. The street itself remains partly closed and has been partly off limits since June 13. Assistant Director of the Envronmental Health and Building Services section with Newry and Mourne District Council, Colm Scullion explained that "at some stage they were going to collapse."
It was a member of the public who reported seeing a large crack in the wall of number 32A. That led to the council sending out a surveyor who was concerned that there was a possibility of the gable wall on the building collapsing. It was the safety aspect of the matter that was uppermost in the Authoritys' mind.
As Mr Scullion explained: "From a building control point of view and from a council point of view we had to protect the public going up and down that street.
“That is why that road had to be closed last week."
When the dangerous structure notice was served on the owners, who are the South Ulster Housing Association, they appointed their own structural engineer to carry out an investigation of all the buildings. This revealed that the situation was even worse than had first appeared.
“They notified us that the houses at numbers 30, 32 and 28 and going right down to number 16 all appeared to be in a dangerous condition and were going to collapse at some stage," he said.
“The buildings are all being demolished from 16 right up to 32A with the exception of the large three storey listed building in the middle. It must be kept intact. They have applied for planning permission to turn that into apartments at some stage."
“The demolition work is all to be finished by Wednesday of this week," he said.
In the opinion of Mr Scullion the dereliction of the buildings is the main reason that they have had to be knocked down although he conceded that heavy goods vehicles using the street "have not helped the situation."
“I think that they have been lying derelict for about 25 years or so," he said.
“South Ulster Housing Association bought over that property a few years back and they made a planning application to the planners to have that entire row demolished.
“The planners turned them down - I am led to believe because it was a conservation area," he continued.
“They amended the application and re-submitted it approximately two years ago. The amendment was that there is one large building in the middle of the row that the planners wanted to retain.
“That was the owners intention all along - to have these buildings demolished but over the years the back walls and the gable walls became in worse and worse condition. Back windows and that fell out. At the back they became exposed to the elements and through time the floors of the buildings collapsed internally so all the old ground floors and the old first floors collapsed into the buildings. So there was just the shell of the four walls left standing," he added.
“I cannot say "yes or no" as to whether heavy vehicles have caused this damage. If the buildings had had people living in them, they probably would have been kept in a better condition.
“However, when they were derelict, I would say that the vehicles going up and down that road has not helped that situation but it is very difficult to be able to say that large vehicles going up and down the road has caused those buildings to get into such a dangerous condition," he concluded.

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