Further to Minute No. 131, 10th February 2016, the Director of City Development submitted a report providing an update on the wind amelioration scheme undertaken subsequent to the consideration of the matter by the Board in 2016 and which sought a decision by the Board on the recommendation that the high winds protocol be lifted, following receipt of peer reviewed independent expert advice. The report also provided an update on the agreement reached in relation to the further works required to ameliorate the wind hot spots in the private land to the south of Bridgewater Place.
As part of the introduction to the submitted report, the Board’s attention was drawn to the expert analysis on the wind conditions following the establishment of the wind mitigation measures. It was noted that the analysis had been carried out on behalf of the Building Owners and had been peer reviewed and validated by an independent wind analyst expert retained to act on behalf of the Council.
On the basis of the expert advice which had been received, the submitted report recommended that the high wind protocol was no longer necessary. However, notwithstanding this recommendation, the Board noted that precautionary safeguarding measures, as detailed in the report, were recommended to be retained, together with further recommendations, again as detailed in the report, regarding the residual hotspot areas.
A Member raised concern regarding the reliance upon expert advice in respect of the recommendation to stop the high wind protocol and suggested that the matter be deferred until the further testing had been carried out on the hot spot area at Back Row. In response, it was highlighted that the Coroner had recommended in 2013 that a road closure protocol be established under specified conditions, until a mitigation scheme had been established and which had been shown to be effective. It was noted that such recommendations had been followed and it was highlighted that the expert advice, which had been peer reviewed and validated, had confirmed that the high wind protocol was no longer needed, with it being acknowledged that although residual hot spots did exist, they did not impact upon the road closure protocol. As such, in determining this matter, the Board was asked to consider the expert advice as detailed within the submitted report, and should they not be minded to agree to the lifting of the protocol, what additional evidence would they require before doing so.
Responding to Members’ comments, the Board received further detail on the 3 hot spots which remained, and the actions being taken in these areas.
Also in response to a Member’s enquiry, it was confirmed to the Board that on the basis of the peer reviewed expert advice received, there were no longer any safety failure points to the north of the building which failed the Lawson Safety Criteria, which according to the experts was the only measure available to the development industry to assess wind conditions, and on that basis the experts had advised that the area was safe and no different to any other city centre environment. In addition to this, the Director of City Development confirmed that he supported the recommendation in the report to lift the road closure protocol, based upon the peer reviewed expert advice received.
Members considered the options available to them, and in response to comments, officers undertook to ensure that the monitoring of the wind conditions in the affected area would continue, and that Executive Members would be kept informed as appropriate on the outcomes of such monitoring, and also on the actions which were being taken in respect of the hot spot areas, to provide assurance to Members that the mitigation measures continued to be effective.
(a) That the updated information in relation to the installation and efficacy of the Wind Amelioration Scheme since this matter was last reported upon, as detailed within the submitted report, be noted;
(b) That the results of the post-installation wind monitoring exercise undertaken and of the expert advice received thereon, as detailed within the submitted report, be noted;
(c) That on the basis of the expert advice which has been received, the Board confirms its agreement that the implementation of the high winds protocol can be stopped, on the expiry of the related Call In period;
(d) That the agreement reached with the owners of Bridgewater Place to seek planning permission and implement the additional structures to ameliorate the wind conditions at the hot spot sites on privately owned land to the south of Bridgewater Place as soon as possible, be noted and supported;
(e) That the minor safety exceedance within the highway at Back Row, as detailed in the submitted report, be noted, with it also being noted that further investigations will be carried out at this location and that if this minor safety exceedance remains unmitigated the Council will seek that the Building Owner takes appropriate remedial action;
(f) That in noting that the monitoring of the wind conditions in the affected area would continue, Executive Members be kept informed, as appropriate, on the outcomes of such monitoring, and also on the actions which were being taken in respect of the hot spot areas, to provide assurance to Members that the mitigation measures continued to be effective.
(Under the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 16.5, Councillor A Carter required it to be recorded that he abstained from voting on the decisions referred to within this minute)