A fire that ravaged Dundee’s derelict Queen Victoria Works has prompted calls for the city council to secure the site and ensure public safety.
The crumbling two-storey buildings date back to the 1820s and ceased production of jute used for carpet manufacturing in 1990.
The Brook Street site has been left to deteriorate in the years since and on Monday was blighted by a major blaze which took firefighters all night to bring under control.
There is now serious concern the buildings could be left to deteriorate even further if the owner does not take action.
Queen Victoria Works site is ‘wrecked’
West End Councillor Michael Crichton says this cannot be allowed to happen.
He said: “The immediate issue is obviously around making the site safe and ensuring adjacent businesses can get back into their premises.
“It is really important the city council engages with the owner of Queen Victoria Works site to get some action in terms of a positive future for the site with sympathetic development, rather than the site lying in a pretty wrecked state for even more years.
“If necessary, the council should take planning enforcement measures to ensure that there is progress. We absolutely cannot have the site sitting in this state forever.”
Police are trying to establish the cause of the blaze and are appealing for public assistance. Smoke from the blaze was visible across the River Tay in Fife and from many areas of Dundee.
It forced the evacuation of nearby buildings, including Dundee Strength Unit, while fitness studio Pole Position Scotland was forced to cancel all sessions.
Landowner could be prosecuted
Fellow West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson echoed the need for the council to act, and if necessary, to use planning enforcement measures.
This means the local authority could escalate matters if a person or company does not comply with formal requests.
One outcome is for the council to carry out the specified work and recover any costs it incurs from the landowner.
In the most serious cases, they could be referred to the procurator fiscal for possible prosecution.
Mr Macpherson said: “In earlier years, there was some positive engagement with the owner who was trying to sell the site and the owner did put some security measures in place to deter unauthorised access although site security has always been a worry.
“There needs to be immediate engagement with the site owner and, if the owner fails to engage, the council must consider using its direct action powers to move this forward.”
Efforts to contact owner
It is not yet clear who owns the building.
Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Assessors Association both list the owners to be Baldric and Co. However, no listing for this company is available on Companies House or elsewhere online.
A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: “The council is now looking at what work needs to be carried out quickly to make the site secure for public safety.
“We are making attempts to engage with the owners.”