Historic properties the responsibility of owners

Demolition work under way at the collapsed wall
Demolition work under way at the collapsed wall
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AN engineer has strongly criticised Wigan Council after an 18th century listed building dramatically collapsed in the town centre last week.

Conservationist Brian Parr says much more should have been done to tackle the condition of 118 Standishgate, which had been in a derelict state for many years before an outer wall was pushed out, reducing part of the property to rubble.

Mr Parr says the council neglected the health and safety of people in the surrounding buildings on Standishgate, which included a church, a school and a family garage which had its access point completely blocked by the collapse, and the incident could have been predicted from the state of the building.

He also criticised the local authority for not doing enough to protect the building, which was in private hands, and is calling for stringent regular checks to be carried out to ensure buildings of historical value are being maintained.

Mr Parr, of Standishgate, said: “It seems apparent that the owners and Wigan Council planning and conservation officers failed to sufficiently and responsibly monitor the building’s deterioration, which I find shocking and unacceptable.

“The regular traffic flow along the rough cobbled passageway was exacerbating any structural instability and there was visible water ingress through several open doors and windows.

“It is only by sheer chance that the event happened in the early hours during the week, otherwise there may so easily have been multiple fatalities,”

Mr Parr says lessons need to be learned from the collapse concerning the care of Wigan’s heritage, which he says compares poorly to towns such as York and Chester.

He said: “This incident is symptomatic of a much wider malaise. We have lost sites around town, such as the Roman bathhouse and barracks in Millgate and Mesnes Field, which more responsible councils would have preserved for posterity to enhance the town’s identity.

“We have lost a fine old friend of a listed building in Standishgate, and subsequently all privately-owned listed buildings must be subject to frequent review.

“I trust the council will now use compulsory purchase on the site of 118 Standishgate and the owners of the property will be prosecuted.”