Thursday 20 June 2019

Costs hit the roof at collapsed Harney's shop

Work goes on at the 180-year-old premises after the July collapse
Work goes on at the 180-year-old premises after the July collapse
Work goes on at the 180-year-old premises after the July collapse

David Looby

The cost to Wexford County Council of repairs to Harney's shoe shop in New Ross - which collapsed in July - is expected to be in excess of €100,000.

Senior Executive Engineer Abraham Dunne said John Street has been open to traffic since August 23, after three weeks closure.

The rear of the four-storey building at 4 John Street collapsed on the night of Tuesday, July 17, leading to the road being blocked to traffic every week day for weeks.

Wexford County Council were notified the following morning and officials visited the site.

Wexford County Council came in to the site under the Dangerous Structures regulations and John Creed Assoc and Mythen Construction were hired and they brought in a specialist demolition expert. Teams of demolition workers dismantled sections of the structure and strengthened the walls. Mr Dunne said: 'When the back wall collapsed it left the roof unstable and subject to windloads which could lift it off so the roof had to be taken off and when it was the floors inside were found to be rotting and sagging.'

The 180-year-old premises had been a shoe shop since the 1960s run by the late Jim Harney. Work is under way to discover who the owner of the building is. Mr Dunne said if the floors weren't removed it was only a matter of time before they would have caved in. 'Our structural engineer John Creed advised that the internal walls had to come out, leaving a huge pile of debris in the back yard which we hand to remove on health and safety grounds. It was a big mess in there.'

Mr Creed had custom designed support structures made to suit the building. 'All of the debris was lifted in and out by crane. We had another machine, a cherry picker, enabling the workers from Mythens to work with the steel at the building's higher levels on a stable platform.'

Work on the building is due to conclude this week, but at a huge cost to the county council with one councillor saying the bill could amount to northwards of €100,000. The final phase of works involves timbre frames being erected, along with waterproof plastic sheeting. District Manager Sinead Casey the contractor installed structural steel to brace and support the terrace. She said due to the character of the terrace, the adjoining properties and lack of access and method of work there were difficulties and the pace of work had to be slow. The council plans to improve the general look of the building over the coming months. This week the hoarding around the ground floor of the building which juts out on the footpath is being removed.

Several businesses' trade was affected by the works. Mr Dunne said one business complained that business was badly affected, while he said workers on site were told by another business that their footfall was up as a result of people having to access the street only by foot. He said the weatherproofing will be inspected regularly by council staff as it is exposed. 'We had a lot of men devoted to the project. Logistically it was a very difficult job. With no access and then with the closure of the road, it meant there were eight men involved in the detour and standing at the junction. It's rare for a building to collapse but it does happen, but at the end of the day ownership has to be established. We did the minimum to make it safe. We didn't want to do anything the owner would think unnecessary. Mythens did an excellent job over the four weeks.'

New Ross Standard