Wellingborough church hall left with a gaping hole after foundations collapse

Building work on the adjacent site caused the wall of the building to collapse

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 1:40 pm

A Wellingborough church hall has been left unusable after building work on an adjacent site undermined the structure's foundations causing a section of wall to collapse.

The damage was discovered early this morning (Wednesday) when workers on the building site on the old allotments off Castle Mews, at the rear of All Saints Church and church hall.

A 2m by 3m section of wall had dropped into the site below, exposing the storeroom, floor and foundations - cracks in the wall zig-zagging further up the side.

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The hall sits on land above the building site

Builders had dug away the soil, close to the boundary where the hall sits above the site, ready for a retaining wall to be concreted and filled.

Nick Clarke, site agent for North London-based developers Siddhart, said: "We have reduced the ground level by 2.5m. We have to create a structural retaining wall and had to excavate as close as you can to the boundary. We have been doing it in sections.

"We have had a month of very dry weather. Then there was a massive deluge. A huge piece of mud fell down and the foundations on the hall that was built 50 years ago are tiny - only nine inches.

"We'd already dug it ready for the concrete and backfill. We left here at 4.30pm to 4.45pm and it was alright. To a lay person it looks awful but it's an easy enough job - It's about 3,000 bricks.

A worker takes in a prop to support the structure

"The rest of the building is going nowhere. We have brace and shore scaffolding inside to hold it back up. We'll have to create a new foundation for the hall."

Mr Clarke has estimated that the work will be finished in a week with hall users able to return in two weeks.

Currently, the hall is occupied by All Saints CEVA Primary School and Nursery children with the pre-school children using the hall after floods wrecked their classroom on August 16 last year. The hall is used by the primary school children in the afternoons for PE.

Headteacher Emma Johnson said: "The site manager was very apologetic. I've had to close the nursery for the week and the children can't do PE.

The hole in the wall

"We just have to keep going and take one day at a time - keep going and hopefully it will be sorted soon."

After the devastating August floods, the school had been planning the start of their building works to repair the classrooms and as a result, building surveyor Louise Shivers was on hand to look at the damage at the church hall.

She said: "It looks like they have dug out the foundation of the building so any and all support for that foundation has gone.

"It shouldn't happen. It's unbelievable, I'm shocked."

The retaining wall is being built at the other side of the hall wall

Members of staff from NNC Building Control were on site this morning to assess the work.

All Saints Church warden Bob Townson said: "After the school being flooded, this is quite a mess frankly.

"I don't think we should have got to this - we have got a problem at the other end of the hall too with water coming under but it is going to be saved. I have every confidence in this gentleman (Mr Clarke).

"We will have to get a survey and safety certificate as safe for us to use before we can allow anyone back. Cheryl Goddard, personal assistant to the The Archdeacon of Northampton, has been informed."

Full planning permission for five houses with parking and access was granted in 2019.

Head teacher of All Saints CEVA Primary and Nursery School at the scene
Building Control visited the site
The church hall