High Peak council exploring legal options over crumbling Chapel building

High Peak Borough Council is to consider taking extraordinary measures to end a standoff over responsibility for a centuries-old building in Chapel-en-le-Frith which has been in danger of collapsing on to a main road for more than a year.

By Ed Dingwall
Monday, 25th July 2022, 3:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 9:31 am

In February 2021, structural engineers warned the council that the bowing front wall of 9 High Street posed a serious risk to road users, pedestrians and neighbouring property owners.

The authority responded by commissioning wooden buttress to support the wall, obstructing traffic in one direction and requiring the installation of temporary traffic lights.

Officers also promised to find a long-term fix for the situation but that has still not happened, much to the frustration of those who travel or trade along the road.

High Street, Chapel where the road has already been narrowed for over a year by the the buttress supporting number 9.

With complaints and speculation reaching fever pitch last week, Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council was forced to clarify its own position on the matter.

A spokesperson said: “It has come to our attention that rumours are circulating regarding the council and land to the rear of 9 High Street.

“For the record we would like to state that the council is not involved in and does not anticipate in the foreseeable future becoming involved in any discussions to purchase any land linked to this property. The council did have some initial exploratory discussions with the owner, but it was subsequently decided not to pursue the matter.”They added: “The parish council is not responsible for either the buttress supporting the building or the traffic lights. These are there as a result of action by High Peak Borough Council.

“Due to the significant ongoing concerns, complaints, risk to pedestrians, disruption to traffic and general inconvenience caused, Chapel Parish Council is actively seeking urgent clarification on a formal and regular basis to determine the current situation with regard to any works that may be undertaken, and their duration, and will publish any appropriate findings in due course.”

In response, the borough council also blamed the property’s owner for the deadlock, and said it was now actively exploring what options may be possible beyond the normal legal framework for addressing such problems.

A High Peak spokesperson said: “The council has exercised its powers under the Building Acts to deal with the immediate issue of the dangerous structure. The powers under that Act only allow us to take the minimum steps to remove the danger to the public.

“The propping and traffic lights achieve this, albeit that they create another problem in terms of the appearance and traffic issues. Powers under the Building Act do not permit us to take action to undertake a permeant repair.”

They added: “Initially we had some very positive dialogue with the owner in terms of commissioning a structural survey and determining the cause of the problem and the necessary steps to remedy it. Unfortunately, however, the owner has failed to commission the necessary building works to date.

“The council is currently considering whether there are any other powers available to it under other legislation which may be appropriate to require a permanent repair to be undertaken. However, the powers available are limited and there are of course risks and costs involved which mean that Member consideration and approval will be required. A paper is currently being prepared for members for consideration of options.”

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