Torbay Council takes extraordinary measures to keep the local community safe after the condition of the East Tower at Oldway reached a critical point.
Following a recent assessment of the condition it is clear the building is becoming dangerous. All week specialist teams and officers have been considering the best course of action, not only to protect and preserve the history of the Tower, but the overall health and safety of the local community.
Works commenced today (Friday 25 August) to remove the top level of the East Tower. Structural Engineers, along with Health and Safety officers will be at the site and will make any additional height reduction decisions should they be required.
On Tuesday 22 August, specialist contractors together with heritage and conservation experts started to carefully deconstruct part of the East Tower at Oldway, after an inspection indicated the condition of the Tower had reached a critical point.
As work got underway, which included numbering bricks and removing the parapet from the top of the Tower, contractors had to stop work after concerns were raised about the rapidly deteriorating condition of the structure.
As pieces of the building were removed, almost all the parapet columns failed or broke when moved. Due to changing pressures within the structure, bricks also began to fall along with other loose material.
On this basis, work was stopped as Structural Engineers and Health and Safety specialists were called to the site to undertake an emergency assessment of the building.
With little lateral support inside the Tower, which could mean the structure collapses in on itself, putting nearby structures and neighbouring properties at risk, immediate remedial action is required. This unfortunately means that the decision had to be made to reduce the height of the East Tower.
Contractors will endeavour to save and store as much of the original brickwork as possible for reinstallation or use at a later date.
It is recognised that these are delicate works, and every practicable measure is being taken to protect other buildings and residential properties in the area.
Safe zones are in place, including a road closure on Oldway Road between Upper Manor Road and Laura Avenue. Members of the public are asked to avoid the area; motorists and pedestrians are advised to follow the diversion routes until further notice.
The Tea Rooms and gardens remain open as normal and can be accessed from Torquay Road.
Contractors will be minimising the dust the works are likely to cause by using a water suppression system. Some noise can be expected during the works, which is unfortunately unavoidable.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, the site will be regularly monitored by security teams which includes the police. If you see anyone breaching any of the site safety measures, residents are advised to report to the police.
Cllr Chris Lewis, Cabinet Member for Place Services and Economic Growth at Torbay Council, said; “This course of action is not one we wanted to take, we were hopeful that the deconstruction works that started earlier in the week would be enough to remove the immediate risk and preserve the Tower.
“We are keeping key partners informed of the situation and reassuring them of our commitment to finding a solution that restores the entire Oldway site.
“We know that Oldway is an important much-loved community asset. The recent ‘Developing a Resilient Future for Oldway’ consultation showed strong support for the emerging vision and proposals, which include restoring Oldway Mansion and gardens and preserving its history and heritage. We will be considering the recommendations of the consultation report in our November Cabinet meeting.”
Torbay Council apologises for the inconvenience because of these urgent health and safety works.
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