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Herefordshire Council works to resolve slope failure issue

An on-going dispute continues between a private landowner and Hertfordshire Council after a wall caused a slope failure.

The private wall built without planning consent has caused progressive slope failure in Herfordshire and cracks within the carriageway.

The C1257 has been closed since June 2018 due to a combination of a dangerous wall next to the highway and damage to the highway itself as a consequence of an ongoing landslip.

In a statement, Herefordshire Council said that engineers have advised that work to make the wall safe, reinstate the road and reopen it to public use will have to accommodate some ongoing movement in the slope. 

The council said it was in dialogue with the owners of the wall to try to resolve the situation collaboratively and without having to resort to potentially prolonged legal action, bu warned that the option to use powers under the Buildings Act or the Highways Act in order to compel works to begin can still be taken should we be unable to progress a collaborative solution.

In October, Herefordshire Council sought an order from local magistrates to require a local householder to remove the private wall. Appealing for a section 77 notice under the Building Act 1984, this required the owner of the property, next to the C1257 road, to remove a wall erected without consent.

Herefordshire Council’s acting assistant director highways and transport Clive Hall said; “We are seeking a further meeting with the owners of the wall and their professional representatives at their earliest convenience.

”At that meeting we plan to present to them an interim solution that will make the wall safe and enable us to reopen the road.  We shall be seeking their consent to move the interim solution we have engineered forward and agree what further monitoring and approvals are required for them to arrive at the eventual construction of their wall.”

The council estimated that there are 42 homes and business affected by the road closure, including 12 holiday let properties, with vehicles and pedestrians currently having to use a small lane, Ferrie Lane, for any access.

The council, in partnership with its highway contract Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), has been working to identify a solution with the owner of the wall, experts and local residents, as well as working with utility companies to ensure safe supplies can continue to be delivered to properties. Emergency services have also been made aware of access routes and restrictions.

A report commissioned by the council from WSP recommended closure of the route but also warned of the alternative route also posed risks.

In a letter to residents that has been seen by GE in October, BBLP said that it had looked at the potential to install passing bays to allow improved access via Ferrie Lane but that it would “entail cutting into the toe of a slope that is currently experiencing geotechnical instability and would potentially be a medium to high risk undertaking”. The letter also confirmed that Lidar surveys had been undertaken to understand the nature of the slope failure in more detail.

Herefordshire Council cabinet member for transport and regulatory services Barry Durkin added: “Ultimately the wall remains the property of the owners.  We fully acknowledge that this closure continues to cause significant access difficulties for residents and businesses. The next meeting with the owners will give us a clear way forward and if our interim proposal is agreed we will provide full details to the community and will then expedite all necessary works to reopen this road.”

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