Sol Central road closures are not health and safety gone mad, says Northamptonshire County Council

"Until all parties agree and have high confidence it is safe to open the roads will remain closed"

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 17th February 2020, 11:28 am
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 1:10 pm

Safety experts insist they are "doing the right thing" by keeping roads closed around Sol Central.

Horsemarket, Mare Fair and Gold Street are still cordoned off today (Monday, February 17) eight days after Storm Ciara ripped off part of the roof at the entertainment and leisure complex in Northampton.

And the closures could drag on until next week as high winds continue to make repair work too dangerous.

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Storm Ciara rripped part of the roof off Sol Central last weekend

A Northamptonshire Highways spokesman said via the department's official Twitter account: "The structural engineer for Sol Northampton has not signed off the remedial work yet. Until this is done we are unable to reopen the surrounding area.

"We have been advised that repairs are done to secure cladding. However, they are still investigating the cause and with more high winds due to hit, no one will ‘chance it'.

"The repairs have been assessed by the structural engineer but he was not prepared to sign off the roof as safe and has instructed the contractor to carry out further repairs. This is dependent on weather conditions.

"Until all parties agree and have high confidence it is safe to open the roads will remain closed.

Roads could remain closed around Sol Central until next week

"This is not health and safety gone mad, roads are closed to protect people from danger. We all understand the frustration and inconvenience but we are doing the right thing."

Met Office five-day forecasts are predicting gusts of between 30mph-45mph to continue every day at least until the weekend.

Roads around the town centre have been gridlocked as drivers seek alternative routes.

Horsemarket and Mare Fair are major bus routes through the town and operator Stagecoach revealed 44 buses an hour are being diverted away from their usual routes with passengers suffering 40-minute delays to some journeys.

Sol Central – which houses Vue cinema, Ibis hotel, a gym, salon and yoga studio – was bought by Palace Capital for £20.7million in 2015.

A spokesman for Palace Capital said: “We would like to thank the public for their patience, and the emergency services and local authorities, for their support during this disruptive period.

"Our contractors have been undertaking works across the week to repair some of the damage caused by Storm Ciara but the continued high winds throughout this period have had a material impact on progress made.

“Public safety remains our No1 priority and given the current weather forecast, a decision has been made to keep the road closures on Marefair and Horsemarket in place to ensure that public safety is optimised.

“We are actively engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to help ensure the disruption is minimised and once the weather conditions have improved, we will swiftly continue with the necessary assessment and repairs work needed to the Horsemarket and Marefair elevations of the building."

Palace Capital owns a number of leisure, office, retail and industrial sites believed to be worth more than £290m throughout England. They took in £17.7m in rent and made an £8.9m profit in the year to March 2019.