Historic building is a ‘horror story’

Tony Howard-Jones surveys the view from his window
Tony Howard-Jones surveys the view from his window

A FED-up Belper man claims the saga of the town’s former grammar school is a “horror story” for the people living nearby.

Tony Howard-Jones, who lives just off Chapel Street, believes the former school, which has been empty for years while planners wrangle about its development, is not structurally safe and also presents a fire risk.

He said: “I have lived here for eight years. The building has been deteriorating over that time. It is a big white elephant sitting there.”

Mr Howard-Jones, who is a member of Belper Civic Forum, also said the building ruined the view from his upstairs window.

A huge sheet of black tarpaulin has been laid over the top of the building and is the only thing he can see when he is in that room.

“It is like being in a shipbuilding yard, It is like having the Queen Mary parked just outside my window.”

“If it is to stay like this for the near future then I would want it tidied up, just like the tarpaulin on the other side which is pinned down.

“The wind can get underneath it and it could blow it anywhere.”

Mr Howard-Jones also expressed concerns over the safety of the building, which is owned by Chevin Property and called for some urgent repair work to be carried out at the site..

He said: “One of the neighbours heard a joist snapping and you can see internal staircases. What is it like in the rest of the building?

“If it did give way, who knows what kind of damage it could do. The recent harsh winters we have had will have undermined the building and we had an earth tremor about two years ago.

“Things have been blowing down, tiles have blown off. No-one has been hurt yet, I don’t think, but imagine a tile blowing off and hitting someone.

“We want to see some remedial work done to at least stop the building falling apart before our very eyes. The whole thing is a horror story for people living here.”

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The furious resident also pointed

out that the property was an eyesore for anyone visiting Belper’s World Heritage Site.

He said: “It looks abandoned and scruffy. It is on one of the approaches to Belper.

“It is all such a sorry business. It has been neglected for years.”

A structural report carried out on the building in February, 2008 revealed a “considerable amount of deterioration to the internal structure” and “rotten timber” throughout the first floor that had “worsened considerably” since a previous inspection in September, 2006.

It also warned that partial collapsing on the first floor was “imminent” and that tarpaulin on the roof “should only be considered as a temporary measure as it is likely to come loose and blow off in high winds”.

The report recommended a controlled dismantling of the building, which was also formerly belonged to Brettles.

The News tried to contact Chevin Property and an agent acting on its behalf, but got no response.