INVESTIGATIONS INTO the partial collapse of a Grade II listed building in Newcastle last weekend are expected to focus on the impact of excavation work alongside one of its outer walls.
The alarm was raised after cracks began to appear in the rear wall of the former bank on Friday afternoon. Contractor Reidy was working to convert 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 (NCC) building control manager Hugh McSherry. 'Small areas of masonry were dislodged, causing part of the roof to drop.'
Police also shut down a Tyne & Wear Metro tunnel beneath the site, because of fears that train vibrations might bring down the weakened structure.
NCC officials then invoked emergency powers to carry out a controlled demolition.
The roof and rear wall were pulled down on Friday evening - causing superficial damage to a neighbouring solicitor's office and crushing several cars.
Two excavations running inside the front and rear wall of the building were later filled with 40m 3of concrete to stabilise the front elevation.
The Health & Safety Executive is investigating the collapse.
A spokesman said that 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, also insisted that foundation work was unrelated to the movement observed on Friday.
'The problems are purely above ground. It is the roof that collapsed, and the only elevation that has collapsed is the wall that NCC pulled out.'