We regret to inform that upon viewing the exterior of Sandfield Tower in June 2019, the main roof has now collapsed inwards into the property. 19 years ago, I personally highlighted that this building was at risk to Liverpool City Council. Each year I have e-mailed the City Council for an update. I have also e-mailed English Heritage, Save Britain’s Heritage (each year) and attempted to understand exactly where this building features under Liverpool City Council.
It is therefore frustrating that I must report the following:
Back in 2013, I e-mailed The Mayor of Liverpool and received the encouraging reply:
“Many thanks for your recent enquiry concerning Gwalia, Queen’s Drive, West Derby and thank you for taking the time to contact me about this issue.
The City Council is very much aware of the poor condition of this grade II listed building and is actively taking steps to remedy the situation. In April 2012, a Section 215 Notice was served upon the owner requiring the external refurbishment of Gwalia. The notice was not complied with and an alleged offence was committed in November 2012. The City Council is now proceeding with a prosecution of the alleged offence and a court hearing is due in October 2013.
In conjunction with the above enforcement action, Planning Committee took the decision to delegate authority to the Divisional Manager Planning in July 2013, to serve a Repairs Notice on the owner requiring him to commence full repairs of the property within 2 months. Failure to commence full repairs could lead to a compulsory purchase order being made in respect to the property to ensure that it is fully refurbished for re-use. At this stage the Repairs Notice has not been served, pending the outcome of the forthcoming trial. A back to back developer is currently being sought to take on responsibility for ownership and appropriate redevelopment of the site, involving the full restoration of the grade II listed building. I hope to be able to provide further positive news regarding Gwalia’s future over the coming months.”
A further e-mail was sent to the Mayor of Liverpool on the 24th Feb 2015 and I also received the encouraging response: “Further to my previous response, I can confirm that the City Council has recently offered to buy the property from the present owner and are awaiting a response. The Council is now considering making a Compulsory Purchase Order of the land in the event that the offer is rejected to ensure that the grade II listed building is saved from being lost. Working with a preferred developer, the Council hopes to secure the full repair of the property and beneficial use before further deterioration sets in.”
However, a further e-mail to the Mayor of Liverpool resulted in the following reply:
I can inform you that there was a resolution by Planning Committee on 26.01.16 to serve a repairs notice and make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to acquire the building. Negotiations are ongoing with a developer to secure funding for the making of the CPO and carrying out of works to save the building. It is anticipated that these will be concluded by April 2018 and the CPO process will commence immediately thereafter.
So – encouraging once again. April 2018.
However, a further e-mail to the Liverpool City Council in May of this year to the “Townscape Heritage Initiative Manager”, a reply was given:
“Thank you for your continued interest in this property. I am not sure why April 2018 was quoted as a conclusion date, such cases are complex and unpredictable particularly when dealing with an uncooperative owner.”
So it looks like the Mayor’s dates were either completely wrong, or they’re unsure on how long a CPO takes. (Maybe they should ask Elizabeth Pascoe of the Edge Lane Project when they CPO’d her property in under 5 years as well as half of Edge Hill before demolishing the Victorian Houses on Edge Lane).
In the interim, I e-mailed Councillor’s Pamela Thomas, Lana Orr and Danial Barrington, and to date, over a month later, I have failed to receive a single reply from any of them. Are they that busy?
And then finally, a story was issued in the Liverpool Echo by the Echo Columnist Stephen Guy who ‘when riding past on his bike, noticed that there was a hole in the roof’. I’m all for publicity on the building, but it was mysterious why they had used the exact same picture of him outside the property in 2016. Was this fake news? Was this to show that they are covering the story?
Since this update, I have again E-mailed: English Heritage, Save Britain’s Heritage, 6 councillors from both the West Derby and Knotty Ash Ward, the Mayor and Peter Hoey to advise them of the latest calamity of the roof now caving in. I have also asked them why a well-known demolition company were seen using ladders to get into the boundary of the property a month ago, and asked them if they knew about this, and if so why, and if not, will trespass be served on this company? They were seen to go in at the same time the roof has collapsed, I hope they managed to vacate the boundary in time.