Residents plan action to protect heritage site

A DIY SOS has been planned by residents to help protect a derelict public building.

Up to 20 people are expected to descend on The Willows in Morpeth on Saturday after an appeal was issued on social media for volunteers to clear the site.

The call was sounded by building surveyor Garry Featherstone, who is part of a group of campaigners trying to seek listed status for the Northumberland County Council property to protect it from demolition.

He said: “It’s a bit of direct action.

“The council doesn’t seem interested in the building so we put something on Morpeth Matters to see who would be willing to do some basic maintenance and about 20 people responded.

“It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to your own house. We’ll start with clearing shrubbery and foliage to let the building breathe and give it a chance. After that we can look at other work, such as the gutters. It’s water that can cause damage so we want to do everything we can to keep the water out.

“At the end of the day it’s a public building so technically we own it. We’ve looked at trespass laws and as long as we can provide a valid reason for being there, which this is, it’s fine.

“All we are trying to do is maintain the life of a public building.”

The early Victorian property in Low Stanners has been vacant for many years and was flooded in 2008.

A council spokesman said: “Plans for this site will be brought forward soon, once the future of the County Hall site is decided.

“Our Neighbourhood Services team are visiting the property as a matter of urgency to see what works may need to be done.”