Decision details

Dangerous Structure Rustic Cottage Gunn Ref no. 20/0539/DS

Decision Maker: Chief Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Rustic Cottage is in imminent danger of collapse which will impact both the adjacent highway and cause potential damage to the neighbouring semi-detached property. Action is required under Section 78 of the Building Act 1984 to remove the danger. There is an immediate danger and a cordon cannot be created to protect members of the public, action is therefore required that cannot be delayed to enable a tendering process.
Work to demolish Rustic Cottage has already taken place at a cost of £27,370 plus VAT. However this has left the former party wall which now forms the gable end to the neighbouring cottage exposed and the front elevation of the cottage in an unstable condition. Hence, in conjunction with the demolition works it is necessary to carry out reinstatement works to the gable end to ensure that it is left in a condition that prevents water ingress and ensures that it is structurally sound. Due to the water ingress into the cob construction this is a complex multi-staged operation and the cost estimate is £38,419.00 plus VAT.
Complying with the Contract Procedure Rules by following a procurement process would not have been appropriate given the fact that the works are by definition urgent. Because of the prospect of worsening weather, the second phase of the works, to make the adjoining property weather proof, are also required urgently.

Under Section 78 of the Building Act the cost of emergency work can be recharged to the owner of the property. There is a financial risk as the owner could potentially legally challenge the Local Authority on the basis that the works were more than the minimum required to make the structure safe. However, it is considered that this risk is mitigated by the supporting dangerous structures report 20/0539/DS

It is essential that the works take place to protect the adjoining properties and the public so I am happy to support his provided recovery from the landowner takes place.


Approval of instruction to contractor to carry out works to make the building safe at an estimated total cost of £65,789.00 plus VAT without complying with the Contract Procedure Rules.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1 - Do nothing was considered but this was not viable due to the danger to the public.

Option 2 - Action under Section 77 of the Building Act 1984 to obtain a Court Order requiring the building to be made safe. This was dismissed as the building needed to be made safe without delay.

Option 3 - Action under Section 78 of the Building Act 1984 to shore up the building was considered but dismissed due to,
- Scaffolding would need to be extensive both internal and external.
- There is not a safe working environment to erect the internal scaffold.
- There is a history of the owner being unresponsive and therefore the scaffold would most likely remain in place resulting in on-going higher costs in the medium to long term.
- Temporary works would not prevent further deteriortion of the cob construction due to water penetration potenitally leading to partial collapse of the neighbouring building.

Publication date: 07/09/2020

Date of decision: 28/08/2020