Council chiefs are being urged to up inspections of Aberdeen‘s ageing buildings, amid concerns failure to do so will cost someone their life.
Rosemount and Mile End Community Council discussed the problem of crumbling tenements this week, following from a near tragic incident in the area at the start of the month.
As high winds battered the Granite City, a chimney stack fell down to the road three storeys below.
It happened in the middle of the afternoon and, on the first day many had been able to their hair cut for months, mere feet away from a popular barbers.
And community councillor Alasdair Stevenson said: “If you walk along Rosemount Place and look, the amount of vegetation growing out of gutters and chimneys – none of these perhaps 150-year-old tenements are being maintained.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen – Edinburgh had a similar situation years ago, when a piece of masonry fell down on a pavement and someone was killed.
“The council there now has a regime of inspections because they have the same problem of big, old buildings fronting right on to the pavement.
“Edinburgh has taken the initiative to do something about it as someone was actually killed – is it going to take someone in Aberdeen dying before something happens?
“It came pretty close on April 5, believe me.”
Change – including an audit of old buildings – was ordered in the capital after the death of waitress Christine Foster, in June 2000.
The incident in Rosemount Place is not isolated this year, as residents were in January forced from their homes after part of a building in Hollybank Place crashed through a roof during storms in January.
Last night, Aberdeen City Council declined to comment on Mr Stevenson’s concerns.
Between August and February, officers carried out only 12 visits – though the pandemic has hindered officers’ ability to carry out site inspections, unless there is immediate danger posed to the public.
Otherwise, the team issues notices to property owners when negotiations for a speedy resolution to remove danger failed or when the building has suffered such substantial damage, like in a fire, that the local authority needs oversight of the work.
At the beginning of August, there were 18 live notices on file issued over public safety concerns and dangerous buildings.
Another three were handed out in the seven months and only one was resolved – leaving 20 potentially dangerous buildings looming somewhere in Aberdeen.
Further notices were issued for unauthorised building work and unauthorised occupation of properties.
Of the total 27 currently live, council staff are having to step in to make three of the buildings safe themselves.
Further action is being considered on another 15 of the outstanding cases.
In the report, strategic place planning chief officer Gale Beattie said: “During periods of lockdown, building standards site inspections have been restricted except for the 24-hour emergency dangerous building call out which is deemed a critical service.
“The availability for owners to access contractors has been restricted during periods of lockdown and therefore delayed the successful closure of some notices.
“Notices under consideration will be re-visited and a dialogue resumed with owners with the intention to close out notices once restrictions are lifted – the indicative timetable for work in people’s homes to resume is April 26.”