Danger site action

Prompt action has protected people from an unstable building which was at risk of disrupting bank holiday activities for thousands in Aylesbury town centre.

On Friday (24th August) Aylesbury Vale District Council planning staff and structural experts for the second time visited 112 High Street, where demolition work was taking place on a structure in the middle of a terrace of buildings. The structure is close to a pedestrian entrance to Vale Park, where Aylesbury Town Council’s Parklife events were taking place over the following two days.

The latest visit quickly confirmed council staff and experts’ initial reservations about the safety of the work that had recently been carried out and concerns about the stability of the building to the side of the demolition site. Neighbouring residents had also recently raised concerns about working practices onsite and the Health and Safety Executive had been informed.

The council has emergency powers to take action where public safety is at risk from dangerous structures, and it stopped the demolition work, shut down the building site with immediate effect and arranged for short term safety works to be undertaken, as it had become apparent that the structural integrity had rapidly deteriorated since the visit earlier in the day.

Cllr Peter Strachan, Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement, said: ‘The poor standard of this demolition work endangered lives, forced some of those living nearby to leave their homes and inconvenienced many residents and businesses unnecessarily. As this incident has shown, AVDC will take prompt action to protect the safety of the public. We will take action to hold those responsible to account.’

He added: ‘Thank you to AVDC staff as well as to all the other agencies involved including Bucks CC and the emergency services, who helped with the road closure, redirecting traffic and keeping the public safely away from the site. We are also grateful to nearby residents who notified us of their concerns; their information helped us to build a better picture of what was happening on the site.’

The HSE, Bucks County Council’s Highways department, Thames Valley Police and Bucks Fire and Rescue Service were involved in the incident along with council staff. With their help, part of the High Street between the A418 roundabout and Albion Road was closed to vehicles and traffic was diverted to an alternative route to protect people. The road closure currently remains in place and the council will continue to work with all parties to reduce the impact on the public.

AVDC also worked with Aylesbury Town Council to keep it updated, enabling it to decide how to reduce the risk to an expected 12,000 visitors attending the town council’s Parklife Weekend event in Vale Park.

Tenants in homes on one side of the site have had to move to alternative accommodation, with AVDC’s housing officers working with their landlord to ensure they continue to be appropriately housed until it is safe to move back into their homes.

A report by structural engineers in the next few days will recommend what further actions need to be taken to ensure the site is made safe. Meanwhile the council is seeking to liaise with the owners of the building to ensure its condition will not be a risk in the long term.