Parents' shock as building in Wembley crashes down next to school playground
PUBLISHED: 19:49 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:41 18 March 2017
A building next to a Wembley school playground collapsed yesterday smashing onto a footpath used by parents and children to access St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School, in Chatsworth Avenue.
A section of the former office block Brent House, on the High Road, fell onto the public footpath at 4pm - just an hour after parents had picked up their children from the playground.
Brent Council said its structural engineers had inspected the scene and Health and Safety Executive would now be investigating.
Nobody was using the footpath, which runs from High Road to London Road, at the time and there were no injuries.
Shocked parent Ellen Walbridge, whose son attends St Joseph’s, said the collapse happened just after children had left the playground. She said: “If there had been any kids on that pathway when this happened yesterday, they would have been killed.”
“If that was today, my son would have been having football practice in the playground,” she added.
An eyewitness, who declined to be named, described the fear and frenzy of passersby. He said: “We heard the floor shaking beneath our feet and we darted outside and there was a big bang and a cloud of dust.
“It was a big surprise. It looked like Aleppo or somewhere in Syria.
“You’d think they would’ve warned us and told us they were doing particular demolition today.”
Moments after the incident police and the fire brigade attended the scene.
Mariana Fernandez, 29, of Elizabeth House apartment block beside the alleyway, who has two children at St Joseph’s was in her flat at the time. She said: “We felt the floor shake and we thought it was an earthquake. We felt very lucky as it was one hour after school finishes. If it happened one hour before there would have been many injuries. At 3pm it is full of kids. They kept working even after it happened. There were pieces of glass flying out.”
Daiva Narukynierie who also lives in Elizabeth House and has a child in year six at St Joseph’s said: “There was another boom at around 10pm. It woke me up and I jumped out of bed and went to the window.”
Henley Homes won permission in October 2015 from Brent Council to demolish the previous Brent House office building and erect two new blocks of between eight and ten stories to creat 248 homes.
A Brent Council spokesman said: “We received a report yesterday that a section of Brent House, owned by developers Henley Homes, collapsed during redevelopment works on the site onto its old car park, reaching the public footpath.
“A structural engineer from Brent Council has since inspected the site and has requested details from the demolition company on how they intend to safely carry on with the works. Police have also referred the matter to the Health and Safety Executive to investigate.
“The footpath has been cleared but remains closed to the public between the High Road and St Joseph’s school on safety grounds. We can also confirm that no-one was injured.”
Site Manager Geoff Bartex, who The Times spoke to at the scene, said he was not in a position to commment but was preparing a statement when more facts were known.
Henley Homes has been contacted.
To be updated.