CROSS Safety Report
Responsibility for boundary retaining wall
This report is over 2 years old
A reporter is concerned about a brickwork retaining wall that separates a path alongside a domestic property from an access road.
Key Learning Outcomes
For all built environment professionals:
If it can be shown, or suspected, that a wall is dangerous then a local authority has powers under the Building Act to take action in respect of a dangerous structure
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A reporter is concerned about a brickwork retaining wall that they consider may be structurally unsuitable and separates a path alongside a domestic property from an access road. The history is unclear but it may be that the wall was built first and then, at a higher level, the access road (Figure 1). The retained height is about 1.5m and, according to the reporter, the local authority does not believe it is their responsibility to become involved as it is not part of the building. The reporter wants to know whose responsibility is it to take action in what could be a dangerous situation.
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If this is an adopted public highway, it is a matter for the Highway Authority, which may not be the Local Authority. However, if it can be shown, or suspected, that the wall is dangerous then a Local Authority has powers under the Building Act to take action in respect of a dangerous structure.
Section 77 of the Building Act 1984 states that the authority may apply to a magistrate’s court, and the court can then require the owner to remove the danger or in default the local authority can carry out the work required to make the structure safe. Section 78 of The Building Act allows the local authority to carry out work in an emergency if they consider that the structure is imminently dangerous.
This report has been re-published to clarify the Key Learning Outcomes regarding the design of masonry walls.