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Historic cabinet works pose real risk to human life

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WORK is set to start on demolishing Warrington’s historic cabinet works “within the month” due to “very real dangers to human life.”

The demolition could eventually include the iconic Garnett’s water tower which has been a feature of Warrington’s skyline for more than a century – but only after heritage and conservation issues are fully considered by the Council before any decision is taken.

As reported by warrington-worldwide yesterday, Warrington Borough Council has called a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the future of the building with interested parties, including Warrington Civic Society – but structural surveys, which took place before Christmas, have revealed the council’s “worst fears”, with demolition of some, if not all of the building “urgent and unavoidable.”

A council spokesperson said :“The Cabinet Works and water tower building are owned by PTS Property Services and the whole site has been derelict for a number of years.

“Our building control team have been in regular contact with the owners throughout the past decade as issues around site security and other risks have arisen.

“We have long been concerned about the integrity of the buildings and surveys undertaken before Christmas 2015 confirmed our worst fears. Detailed structural and drone surveys identified many dangerous areas, making demolition of some if not all of the building urgent and unavoidable.

“We have taken emergency measures under the Building Act 1984 and PTS will be responsible for the costs. Work is likely to begin within a month, and we will be consulting with local businesses, residents and the Civic Society on the demolition programme and related issues. No part of the site is heritage listed.

“The water tower has been a feature of the Warrington skyline and the town centre for more than one hundred years, but we have to balance the risk of losing a historic building against the very real danger posed to human life if we fail to act.”

The spokesperson added: “Whilst there are some structural issues with the Water Tower caused by decay and vandalism, we will not be requesting the demolition under our emergency Building Control powers.

“Instead options will subsequently be considered through the Planning Process, subject to the owner of the Building submitting a valid planning application, thus ensuring that heritage and conservation issues are fully considered by the Council before any decision is taken on the future of the remaining part of
the Building”.

Yesterday’s article, which includes video footage of the building from the air can be seen here:

http://www.warrington-worldwide.co.uk/2016/01/26/iconic-garnetts-cabinet-works-under-threat-of-demolition/

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Images of the historic cabinet works taken during the council’s recent inspection of the building

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

6 Comments

  1. I have to say the top of the Tower looks to be in quite a state in the above photos. But here’s what I don’t get.
    It has stood there for over 100 years, the council have been in regular contact with PTS and yet in the spate of just over a year the tower has fallen into that state. I have photo’s which I took in September 2014 where you can clearly see the top of the tower and it was all intact and nothing like it is now so how has it suddenly deteriorated so quickly. If vandalism then how on earth have people got up there? Urban Exploration groups have clearly visited the site in the past but years ago not recently as all their photos are older but they would not have caused damage as it’s not something their sort do. Anyway, I’ll upload my photo’s to the FORUM as I can’t add them here.

  2. The concrete or stone string course piece protruding from the original line of the wall did not move that far out of position by natural causes, and would have required quite some effort to put it where it is. This and the extent of all the other decay amounts to an obvious case of failure to maintain to the point of dangerous neglect. If this building has been allowed to become a hazard to the general public or those moving near and around it, should those responsible not be charged?

  3. Just for clarification as under the story yesterday I posted that Thursdays Council meeting, 6pm, is by ‘Invitation Only’ as that’s what I had been told by the Civic Society. However I have just had it confirmed to me (via a call to the council) that it IS a PUBLIC meeting as the news article above says and that anyone can attend.

  4. The cabinet works is said to pose “very real dangers to human life.” . Exactly how is that? It’s not anywhere near enough to a public footpath to cause a danger. To keep people from wandering onto the site the simple solution would be to put a fence up and a warning sign! The river Mersey poses ‘very real dangers to human life’ to anyone daft enough to jump in but would WBC consider filling it in?

    There has been gross neglect by the Developer in letting the building get into this position and WBC for not forcing them to do anything about it. Why wasn’t it fully secured and fenced off years ago? Why wasn’t it repaired years ago? It must seem obvious to anyone that there has been no desire for this building to be renovated and it has been left to deteriorate to the extent where they think they can easily get permission to demolish it.

    Note the quote;-
    “The water tower has been a feature of the Warrington skyline and the town centre for more than one hundred years, but we have to balance the risk of losing a historic building against the very real danger posed to human life if we fail to act.”
    Ah, so demolition of the cabinet works holds with it the risk of damage and subsequent demolition of the water tower as well? (anyone surprised at this statement?) ‘Accidental’ damage to the water tower would be extremely beneficial to the developers so how careful are they going to be with the bulldozers?
    Instead of the supposedly caring….. ” but we have to balance the risk of losing a historic building against the very real danger posed to human life if we fail to act.” Why wasn’t WBC’s statement “We are determined to protect our historic building and will ensure that should any damage be done to the water tower the developer will be forced to rebuild it brick by brick”.?
    The answer of course to that question is, as has been shown in the article (link provided by Paul Kennedy) that people working for WBC have for some time been negotiating with developers for future development of the site.
    These quick demolitions are becoming quite frequent in Warrington, in the last few months Mr Smiths, the Ship Inn and now the Cabinet Works – none of which couldn’t have been saved.

    • Hear, hear, Sha your comments have a very authentic ring about them. For so long the official response to the instances you have mentioned has been a very public wringing of hands as if to signify there is nothing more that could be done, when quite obviously there was a lot that could. It has been obvious for some time, despite official comments to the contrary, that the heritage of Warrington amounts to now’t as far as WBC is concerned.

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