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Number of dangerous structure incidents in Cornwall increases

Residents of Cornwall are being reminded of their duty to maintain buildings they own so that they don’t pose a danger to the public. 

It comes as Cornwall Council has seen the number of reported cases of dangerous structures increase every year since 2015, when the total stood at 168. 

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In 2020, a total of 254 concerns were reported to the Council’s Building Control team. 

Many of the reports have been due to lack of maintenance, although it is also thought that the increase could be exacerbated in part due to changes in weather patterns, with warmer and wetter winters and more frequent and intense weather extremes causing damage to structures. 

A dangerous structure could, however, be caused by a wide range of things – such as a fire or even a car crash. 

The Council has powers to make sure building users – including the general public – are safe, and its Building Control team operates a 24/7 service to respond to such concerns. 

Tim Dwelly, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “Dangerous structures can include anything from loose roof slates through to buildings damaged by either a fire or impact from a car. 

Our Building Control team triages and, where necessary, inspects all dangerous structures that are reported to us and deals with each in terms of the degree of danger it poses. 

If the structure is deemed an imminent risk, we can serve a notice to require the building owner to take immediate action to remove the danger. 

In some cases where the owner is either not contactable, or where they are unable or unwilling to take the necessary action, the Council’s Building Control team may have to take default action on the owner’s behalf, in order to protect the public.  In the case of loose slates, for example, this may involve closing a road or fencing off an area, rather than removing the roof covering or loose slates.” 

In all cases where there is a danger, the Council recovers the cost of any involvement or emergency work needed from the building’s owner. 

Neil Read, the Council’s Chief Building Control Officer, said: “It is always worth arranging regular checks of your property for any maintenance that may be required or that is overdue. 

This may be things like loose roof slates, guttering or rendering to walls or chimneys. It’s also a good idea to check the condition of any fences or garden walls.  

These simple checks should always be made whilst observing safe working practices. 

Given the current COVID situation, if any external maintenance works are required that you need professional help with, this will help support local tradespeople at this difficult time. Please make sure that you are using recommended and competent contractors with the appropriate insurances and experience.” 

For more information on building control regulations see here.


Story posted January 21, 2021