Falling Masonry Prompts Warning To Landlords

As decorative stonework falls to the ground on high road

The council is urging shops, restaurants and other businesses in the borough to make sure that regular safety checks are conducted on the fabric of their buildings following an incident in Balham this week.

A piece of decorative stonework or cornicing on an upper storey of a building in Balham High Road fell to the ground in the early hours of the morning.

The building has now been made safe by council engineers and nobody was injured, but the incident has served as a timely warning to owners that they need to make sure their properties are safe.

Structural engineers from the council’s building control team which deals with dangerous or unsafe buildings is now calling on local businesses to make sure that whoever owns their premises conducts proper checks to make sure it is safe.

Head of planning and development Tim Cronin said: “This incident underlines the importance of all property owners making sure that their buildings are properly maintained.

“Many of the buildings in this part of London date back to the Victorian era when architects tended to add lots of decorative stonework to the facades of buildings to make them look more attractive.

“It is these types of cosmetic extras that can cause problems because they are not an integral part of the structure. Many will have been fixed to the front of the building with metal ties or nails and over time these can rust away or perish leaving these heavy stone features unsafe.

“Our message to property owners, especially those whose buildings are next to busy pedestrian routes, and also businesses like pubs, bars and restaurants which have customers sitting or standing outside, is that they need to carry out regular checks to ensure that their building remains safe.

“Employing structural engineers or surveyors to carry out regular inspections will not cost much money, it means that problems can be detected quickly and repaired more cheaply and it could actually save someone’s life.”

April 25, 2014