THE future of an historic building, thought to be in danger of collapse, is in a state of limbo.
Chichester city councillors are concerned the Old Priest’s House in Whyke Road is ‘a public safety concern’.
Chichester District Council is struggling to pin down the owner of the building – despite several efforts to get in contact.
But Andrew Frost, the district’s assistant director of development management, said there were ‘no major concerns’ about the roofless building, which was damaged by fire.
Speaking at a Chichester City Council meeting last Wednesday, Cllr David Siggs said: “The powers that the district council has are not being used.
“We are left with a listed building which is now in a dangerous situation.
“The walls of the building are bowing. It sits very, very closely to Whyke Road.
“It is in danger of collapsing. We risk losing a listed building.”
Cllr Siggs, who is also chairman of the city council’s planning and conservation committee, said the historic buildings adviser at Chichester District Council, Dr Ian Wightman, had ‘huge powers’ to return the building to a ‘safe state’.
Cllr Siggs said the council’s previous planning adviser had also tried to make contact with the owner on ‘more than one occasion’.
“I think he does not know his legal requirements,” said Cllr Siggs.
Minutes from a city council planning committee meeting said: “In view of the previous structural report from the property manager, the question of public safety was now a real concern and it was felt that further, more robust steps were now essential.”
A spokesperson for Chichester District Council said the building was on the Heritage at Risk register.
“The Old Priest’s House is a grade II listed building which has suffered from fire damage.
“Having carried out a recent structural condition inspection we are keeping the state of repair of the building under review and are contacting the owners to discuss the necessary repairs and the building’s future.”