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Culprit for Newcastle collapse yet to be identified

INVESTIGATIONS INTO the partial collapse of a Grade II listed building in Newcastle last month were continuing as GE went to press. Work is expected to focus on the impact of excavation work alongside one of its outer walls.

The alarm was raised after cracks appeared in the rear wall of the former bank. Contractor Reidy was converting it into a bar for developer Coliseum Group.

Police and firefighters set up a 100m exclusion zone around the building when the wall began to list and part of the roof fell in.

'The rear wall appeared to slip on its base, causing it to lean substantially, ' said Newcastle City Council building control manager Hugh McSherry. 'Small areas of masonry were dislodged, causing part of the roof to drop.' Police shut down a Tyne & Wear Metro tunnel because of fears that train vibrations might collapse the weakened structure.

Council officials then invoked emergency powers to carry out a controlled demolition.

The roof and rear wall were pulled down the same day, causing superficial damage to a neighbouring solicitor's office and crushing several cars.

Two excavations inside the front and rear wall of the building were filled with 40m 3of concrete to stabilise its front elevation.

The Health & Safety Executive is investigating the collapse. A spokesman said Reidy had been excavating new structural foundations for the building but it was too early to say if this had triggered the collapse.

A source at Reidy, who refused to be named, insisted that foundation work was unrelated to the movement.

'The problems are purely above ground. It is the roof that collapsed, and the only elevation that has collapsed is the wall that they [the council] pulled out.'

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