Friday 22 March 2019

Emergency works to make building safe

The collapsed rear of the building
The collapsed rear of the building

David Looby

Emergency works have been carried out on an 180-year-old shop premises in New Ross which partially collapsed.

The back wall of the four-storey Harney's shoe shop on John Street, which has been closed for several years, collapsed at around 10.30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17. Wexford County Council were notified the following morning and officials visited the site. Demolition workers have been dismantling sections of the structure, which was described as dangerous.

Senior Executive Engineer Daniel McCartan said the entire rear wall collapsed, adding that he had not witnessed anything on that scale before in New Ross. He said the immediate concern was for a three storey vacated building adjoining 'Harney's' to the north. 'It is a storey lower and there was potential for damage after the collapse.'

He advised that the owners were contacted immediately and advised of the situation. He said there was no obvious evidence of damage to that building from the collapse, but stressed that access to Harney's was still very limited and detailed structural assessment cannot be completed until the collapsed building is stabilized.

Dating from 1840, Harney's was a shoe shop for many years run by the late Jim Harney from 1966. He leased the building and Wexford County Council are currently trying to find the property's owner. The building is listed as a protected structure and is one of Ireland's national heritage buildings. Mr McCartan said Wexford County Council came in to the site under the Dangerous Structures regulations. 'We had to intervene immediately to make the structure safe. We took immediate action and organised a suitable structural engineer and contractor.'

John Creed Assoc and Mythen Construction were hired and they brought in a specialist demolition expert. 'The priority for us was to make the building safe, we are still in the process of getting it to that point,' Mr McCartan said. 'We are getting it to the point where it is stable in the short to medium term. We will then look at options. We are doing stabilization works at the minute and as access improves we are developing a number of options for a long term solution.'

A crane had to be stationed on John Street for most of last week to enable workers to gain access to the upper rear section of the building. This was deemed unstable and had to be removed before any works could be completed below. There have been traffic delays and diversions due to the building works, which will continue this week.

Mr McCartan said: 'It has to be assessed as they do the work. We are having to develop our procedures as we go. Wexford County Council are doing the works in the interest of public safety and we are doing all we can to minimise disruption and risk. The businesses on John Street have stayed open and access to John Street has been maintained. For example, John Street car park and the medical centre are accessible to vehicles. You can still access North Street and down to the quay. We only really closed the road locally and traffic travelling to Waterford was diverted along the ring road.'

He said Wexford County Council will do everything it can to ensure the best possible long term solution for the building in the interests of John Street and New Ross Centre. All efforts will be made to maintain the architectural heritage of the street but it was stressed that the priority for Wexford County Council was public safety.

New Ross Standard