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Community / More concern over safety of Yell building

Photo: SSD Group

FRESH safety concerns have been raised over a ruined property in Yell which could be demolished after part of its internal wall appeared to have collapsed recently.

The property in question is Linkshouse, a C-listed building which is currently the subject of a planning appeal to the Scottish Government.

Owner Lindsay Laurenson is keen to have the building – now effectively a shell of a house following a substantial fire some decades ago – demolished on safety grounds, and councillors have backed his move.

But Historic Environment Scotland objected, resulting in an application for demolition having to go in front of the Scottish Government’s planning appeals division. This process is ongoing.

However, Laurenson said he had noted a partial collapse inside the building when visiting the property recently.

He felt that if he had been standing under the section of wall at the time then he could have been killed.

The partial collapse of stone was on the inside of the wall which sits next to the public road.

Laurenson questioned whether it happened due to the icy conditions.

He wrote to the planning appeals division: “Given the condition prior to this was concerning, I am now extremely worried about the weakened and collapsing shell now.”

It is understood the owner is keen on the idea of the public road being closed as a result on safety grounds.

Meanwhile a director of Glasgow-based civil engineering firm who visited the property recently said they did not enter the structure to inspect the internal walls as they did not consider safe to do so.

They added their view that it would not be safe to install temporary measures on the building due to heavy plant working in close to proximity as well as the safety of staff who would have to enter the property.

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The director added that the costs of refurbishment would be “prohibitively expensive”.

Local structural engineer Karl Bolt, who assessed the building in 2022, also added that attempts to repair Linkshouse – such as the southern elevation – could result in collapse of adjacent walls.

He added in a letter to the planning appeals division: “In summary, I think the only future for this building involves at least the partial demolition of the structure to make it safe in the short term.

“What happens after that is not for me to say, but the restoration of the structure will not be economically viable.”

The process behind the planning matter is continuing, with both the applicant and local authority recently asked to provide more information.

Councillors on the SIC’s planning committee who ruled in favour of demolition were asked to provide more details of their reasoning.

The building dates back to the 1700s and is C-listed.

Planning officers had recommended that the application for demolition be refused.

They felt that there was “insufficient justification” to support the complete demolition of the C-listed building, and that information provided did not demonstrate that every effort has been made to retain it.

During the planning process both Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) objected to the demolition.

Yell Community Council said it was in support of demolition given the safety concern.

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