Work starts to demolish part of eye-sore building in Wisbech High Street over public safety worries
Fenland District Council is taking urgent action to partially demolish a derelict building in Wisbech after surveys revealed parts of the building are at risk of collapse.
Work to remove part of the remaining building at 11-12 High Street began today (Monday) and is expected to take up to a week to complete.
The High Street will be temporarily closed and diversion routes set up for the duration of the works, although businesses will be open as usual.
The council, which owns the Grade II listed building, said investigations have revealed that two unsupported walls behind the façade are structurally unsafe, and appropriate action must be taken to ensure public safety.
The council purchased the property from its previous owner late last year in order to save it from further dilapidation and bring it back into use as part of its £1.9 million Heritage Lottery- funded Wisbech High Street Project.
As reported in the Citizen last month plans had already been drawn up with a developer to regenerate the site with new flats and shops, and structural surveys scheduled to determine the condition of the building and its foundations.
Whitfield Property Investments Ltd said demolition of the building was only solution to providing there proposed five-storey mixed use development including retail on the ground-floor and 15 residential flats above
A heritage statement drawn up by Wilby & Burnett in support of Whitfield's proposals explained the buildings, should be knocked down and replaced and argued it would cost around £125,000 extra and be too dangerous to rebuild the current façade compared to complete demolition.
Now structural concerns were raised during initial excavation works in the building’s basement last week, and subsequent surveys confirmed that remedial work should be undertaken without delay to mitigate any risks.
Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio holder for heritage, said: “Public safety is paramount so we are moving swiftly to remove the unsupported elements of the building and make it safe.
"A temporary road closure will be necessary to ensure the works are carried out with the necessary precautions, and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”