Concern over demolition

DANGEROUS?: Safety concerns have been raised about this building work. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM120405 (16).

DANGEROUS?: Safety concerns have been raised about this building work. PHOTO: John Maddrell JM120405 (16).

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PART of a main road in Port St Mary was closed last Wednesday after it was made unsafe by the demolition of the rear of buildings at Ben Varrey, in Athol Street.

A member of the public raised the alarm, according to Siamack Rowaichi, building control manager at the Department of Infrastructure.

Two houses in Athol Steet Port St Mary that have been partly demolished and have been declared unsafe forcing the road to be closed.

Two houses in Athol Steet Port St Mary that have been partly demolished and have been declared unsafe forcing the road to be closed.

The facades of the houses are being retained while modern homes overlooking the harbour are built behind.

‘There was a complaint made to the health and safety inspectorate that maybe people are working in a dangerous condition,’ Mr Rowaichi said.

‘Health and safety attended the site and took photos and came to the same opinion. Because the building contractor removed the rear wall to the building, the roof was unsupported and with high winds forecast for the bank holiday weekend there needed to be something done to make sure members of the public were not put in any danger.

‘When roofs are not supported you could have the wind lift tiles and they are thrown about or lifting the roof off.

‘With the prevailing wind from the sea, that could be the case.’

The road closure covers on a short stretch at the start of Athol Street and will run until 4pm on Wednesday, April 11, but Mr Rowaichi said he hoped the work would be completed by then.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Port St Mary Commissioner Alec Merchant raised concerns about the safety of the other side of the buildings.

He said: ‘It’s not just Athol Street – if any masonry fell inward it could create an avalanche to come on to the quay. A lot of people are coming and going and they are not wearing hard hats.’

He added that in the coming weekend a crane was being used to lift boats from the quayside into the sea.

Bur Mr Rowaichi said: ‘There is quite a depth to this site – they have already taken quite a lot down. These are heavy stones, they are not going to be thrown about with high winds. There is no need for the Underway to be closed. The risk is minimal.’ He added that the contractor, C. J. Bridson, had been co-operative and ‘very helpful – they wanted to get things done right.’

There was always risk with any demolition work, he said, and an element of the unknown, particularly with such old buildings. ‘There is sequence of doing things safely. Maybe in this case they were a bit overzealous in their work practices and it led to this,’ said Mr Rowaichi.

Chris Bridson, managing director of C.J. Bridson said: ‘It’s more the element of risk than something will fall down. It looks worse than it is.’

He added the job was ‘major’ and he apologised for any inconvenience

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