Cork business leaders and politicians say tougher approach needed after partial building collapse

Business leaders in one of Cork's most historic city areas have called for a tougher approach and more government funding to tackle long-term vacancy and dereliction following a partial building collapse.

Cork business leaders and politicians say tougher approach needed after partial building collapse

Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle described the incident as a "worrying development"

Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle described the incident as a "worrying development"

Business leaders in one of Cork's most historic city areas have called for a tougher approach and more government funding to tackle long-term vacancy and dereliction following a partial building collapse.

The North Main Street Traders' Association said the authorities must adopt a more aggressive approach towards the owners of long-term vacant or derelict buildings to prevent such incidents.

"It shouldn't matter whether these buildings are owned by private individuals or vulture funds. The city council must take a tougher approach or be given greater powers to tackle them so that buildings like this don't fall into a dangerous state of disrepair and crumble," traders' association spokesman, Patrick Leader, said.

He was speaking as officials in Cork City Council's building control unit confirmed that they are now liaising with the owner of a vacant building on North Main Street, and their engineer, about the future of the structure following Thursday night's incident.

Security barriers remained in place today outside the building at the Washington Street end of the street, close to its junction with Liberty Street.

Two horizontal steel support bars have been bolted to the front of the building for some time amid concerns about its structural integrity.

The partial building collapse on North Main St

The partial building collapse on North Main St

But the alarm was raised at around 6.30pm on Thursday following reports that a significant portion of the building to the rear of the property collapsed into an internal storage yard. There were no injuries.

There were unconfirmed reports that building inspectors had visited the premises earlier this week, and again on Thursday, less than two hours before the collapse.

Two units of Cork City Fire Brigade were dispatched to the scene. They sealed off the street for several hours on public safety grounds pending a full engineering assessment of the building facade.

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy said it is clear that the derelict site fine has become too blunt an instrument to deal with dangerous buildings in older parts of the city.

"Large scale central government funding is needed more than ever before to fund the compulsory purchase of falling-apart properties," he said.

Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle described the incident as a "worrying development".

Public safety has to be given the first priority. This needs to be followed by a more aggressive use of the derelict and vacant site levies. We need to bring an end of dereliction to bring about a living city centre.

Mr Leader said traders in the area, the historic spine of the city centre, hope to see movement soon on several derelict sites in the area.

The former Munster Furniture complex is earmarked for student accommodation.

There are hopes that the North Main Street shopping centre will find a key anchor tenant to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Dunnes Stores.

And they are also hoping that the event centre will be developed on nearby South Main St.

Last March, Cork County Council secured a court order to demolish two properties on a street in the centre of Bandon which had been closed for almost three months following a building collapse incident.

The privately-owned structures on Oliver Plunkett St collapsed the previous December, prompting a street closure on public safety grounds.

The council served statutory notices on the owners of the properties but had to go to court a few weeks later to secure permission for demolition when the owners failed to act fully on those notices.

And in December 1999, a young woman was killed and eight others were injured, one seriously, when the parapets of two buildings collapsed onto Washington St in Cork.

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