Barrier to solve safety concerns

PLANS have been submitted for work to Morpeth Town Hall to address serious safety concerns.

Morpeth Town Council is seeking Listed Building Consent to install a glass barrier along the first floor landing balustrades to prevent young children falling through.

The issue was highlighted in an independent access audit following a substantial increase in numbers using the building since the relocation of Northumberland Registration Service to the Town Hall and the introduction of weddings and civil ceremonies.

An estimated 16,800 people visited the first floor Ballroom for weddings last year and many guests congregate on the landing.

But while building regulations stipulate that the gap between balustrades should be no more than 100mm so that children can not pass through, the distance between the Town Hall staircase balustrades is 220mm, with a five metre drop onto concrete below.

Northumberland County Council’s Heritage Officer has recommended that a glass barrier should be fitted against the first floor balustrades, using a minimum amount of fixings to the building and floor, and none to the walls, balustrades or handrail.

As frameless glass is already used in the entrance lobby of the Butter Market and the partition wall section in the Corn Exchange, it would not be considered out of place.

In an application to county planners, Morpeth Town Council says the work will be integrated as unobtrusively as possible to protect the appearance of the staircase and it will be limited to high risk areas.

The county council’s North Area Planning Committee is expected to consider the application at its meeting on Thursday, March 1.