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Update on St Andrew's Church Wall

06 May 2021

Harrogate Borough Council Planning Department has made a revision to original plans to repair and support the Church wall.

The original plan was to repair 10m of the wall that had collapsed and to support and restrain a further 30 m of wall with soil nails.

The revised plans are that the collapsed part of the wall will be repaired but that the 30 m of wall that is vulnerable to collapse will be monitored.


 
The Parish Council has been pursuing this issue to try to get the road opened as soon as possible and to ensure the measures in place avoid any further closures.

The Parish Council supports the plans to rebuild the collapsed wall but is very unhappy about the revised decision to monitor rather than to support and restrain the 30 m of wall from the collapsed part to beyond the Church tower. 

The Parish Council has tried hard to persuade HBC to revert to the original plan in the hope that this would allow the road to be opened sooner and with more reassurances of safety and the longevity of repairs.

Unfortunately, the Parish Council has not been able to persuade HBC to change their mind. 

The Parish Council wants to make it clear to residents that any repercussions from the current plan are squarely the responsibility of Harrogate Borough Council Planning Department.

The Parish Council has had several meetings with HBC Planners, the consultant structural engineers and Historic England.  The reasons why the Parish Council object to the revised plan are outlined later in this document.

TIMELINE

February 2020 The Church wall collapsed following a weekend of heavy rain

August 2020  The Parish Council supported HBC’s plan to repair the 10 m of wall that had collapsed and to use soil nails to support and restrain the remaining 30 m of wall that is considered unstable.  The Parish Council requested that the soil nails were painted grey instead of black.  At that point we were under the impression that the road would be open in September 2020 (Click HERE to see the note posted on the community website )

September 2020 Historic England raised a concern about the visibility of a number of soil nail pattress plates in the wall in the original plan.  They requested that alternative, less visible options be considered. You can read their letter from September 2020  HERE  and October 2020 HERE  

October 2020 - April 2021 Further discussions between HBC and Historic England led to a revised planning application which was considered in March 2021. 

February 2021 The Parish Council expressed concerns that the wall had been left for another winter without being repaired.  After consulting with Historic England, the Parish Council was concerned that HBC might have misinterpreted the status of Historic England’s comments, considering them as official objections rather than advisory comments.  As a result of this, the Parish Council instigated a Zoom meeting with Historic England, the consultant engineers at Mason Clark, Revd Ian Kitchen, and a representative from HBC in order to try to clarify the situation and speed up the resolution. In this meeting, and in other conversations with the structural engineers, serious concerns were raised about the structural safety of the 30m of wall that was due to be supported and restrained in the original plan.

March 2021 HBC raised a revised planning application but the content of this revised plan was neither explained in a written document nor shared with the Parish Council. 
Worrying about possible safety of residents, however, the Parish Council wrote a response requesting that the highest priority be given to ensuring there are no further collapses and supporting structural intervention (ie the original plan, devised in June 2020). You can read the Parish Council's comment on the revised plan HERE  


The issues:

Recent enquiries by the Parish Council with all relevant bodies have suggested that there are 2 conflicting issues:

 1. The appearance of the wall and 2. The stability of the wall.
  1. The appearance of the wall: Historic England has raised concerns that metal pattress plates would have a visual impact on the wall and has asked if alternative supports might be considered.  They wrote, “ .. the visible presence of the proposed pattress plates would contrast with the existing materiality of the wall and would draw the eye to the new structural intervention in an undesirable way. This, it is considered, will erode the wall’s historical character and is not compatible with the exceptional heritage interest of St Andrew’s Church.” 
         Click HERE to read the full letter from Historic England
  1. The stability of the wall: The wall that collapsed had been recently repointed and was being monitored for movement since 2019.
The consultant engineers have explained to us that the 30 m of wall alongside the collapsed part is of concern.  They wrote, “A 30m section between the collapse and the church exhibits an outward bulge and requires remedial lateral restraint to prevent further movement however this proposal has been rejected due to the proposal having exposed pattress plates fitted to the end of the soil nail anchors. As a result, the revised proposals have omitted this element of work. This 30m section of wall will remain vulnerable to collapse so will be subject to a monitoring regime”.

You can read the original Heritage Statement (July 2020) from Mason Clark, the consultant engineers HERE  and a revised statement (February 2021) HERE  

The consultant engineers have explained to the Parish Council that they recommend the original plan of using soil nails and do not consider monitoring will necessarily flag any problems in time to avoid them because the wall could be vulnerable to a sudden collapse.  They also advise that repointing the wall will not improve its structure.
 
It is the responsibility of Harrogate Borough Council’s planning department to weigh up the importance of these different issues. 

The revised planning decision means that Harrogate Borough Council have decided to monitor the 30 m of wall alongside the collapsed part and to only intervene if there is evidence of movement.  They have explained that, in their view, there is insufficient evidence of movement to merit either restraints such as soil nails (because this would have a visual impact on the wall) or rebuilding the whole wall (because this is expensive).

HBC started to monitor the wall in March 2021 and, if there is evidence of movement, then a further planning application for support and restraint could be made in future.

The Parish Council expresses its disagreement with HBC’s decision for these reasons:
  • The location of the wall alongside a road and opposite the main entrance to the Primary School and near the exit of the Primary School car park, makes any risk of a sudden collapse unacceptable and the possible repercussions greater than for the original collapse which is further away from the school.
 
  • The road has been closed now for over a year.  HBC’s revised planning decision means that plans to implement structural support and restraint have been abandoned.  Instead, this will only be done if there is evidence of movement.  This evidence will be gathered by monitoring the wall.  Monitoring only began in March 2021.  The Parish Council questions the sense of monitoring wall movement from March 2021 when the collapse happened a year earlier.
 
  • The collapsed section of wall had been recently repointed and was being monitored when it collapsed.  The Parish Council considers this indicates that monitoring may once again not highlight a collapse in time to avoid potential danger to passers-by and the inconvenience of further road closure.
 
  • The Parish Council recognises that pattress plates along part of the Church wall will be visible, but considers safety concerns, the need to open the road and the preference to avoid further future road closures should outweigh this concern.
 
  • The consultant engineers have advised that temporary support for the 30m of vulnerable wall is required whilst work to rebuild the collapsed wall is undertaken.  This requires further project design, permissions from NYCC Highways Department and the expense of temporary support measures which will be removed at the end of the project. This will also have an impact on the accuracy of monitoring movement, because the wall will have temporary support for some weeks.  The Parish Council is disappointed that HBC has decided to spend funds on designing and implementing a new, temporary solution that will be removed rather than using the original plan, which offers a longer-term solution.
 
  • The original planning application was to “rebuild the collapsed wall and undertake stabilisation works to other sections of the wall”.  The Parish Council questions the propriety of HBC making the decision to abandon the stabilisation works, which was a major part of the original application, without discussion with HBC’s Planning Committee and without making public this decision. ( Correspondence between HBC Planning and the Parish Council can be seen HERE  )
 
  • The Parish Council hopes that the Church wall will stand for many more years, but will be utterly dismayed if, after work to rebuild the wall has been completed, the road will have to be closed again because there is evidence of wall movement.  The Parish Council would consider this scenario to have been entirely predictable.
At present, the work to rebuild the collapsed section of wall is planned to be done over the Summer 2021.

You can find all associated documents on Harrogate Borough Council's Planning Portal,
harrogate.gov.uk/planning-applications

There are two applications and the documents are not consistently shared for both:
Ref. No: 20/02720/RG3
and
Ref. No: 20/02721/LB


This article has been shared with HBC Planning Department in advance of publication to check the accuracy of fact.  We will update or amend if we receive any further information.
The information in this article expresses facts that are understood by Kirkby Malzeard, Laverton and Dallowgill Parish Council and that have been shared either in writing or verbally by the various parties involved. 

 
 
 




 

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