High winds delay safety inspections after Storm Ciara hits Northampton
Three main roads through Northampton town centre could stay closed until next week while engineers wait to make the Sol Central roof safe.
Horsemarket, Marefair and Gold Street have been cordoned off since Storm Ciara ripped part of the roof away from the leisure and entertainment complex on Sunday morning (February 9).
That is causing other roads to become gridlocked around the town centre with St Andrew's Road, Wilmington Terrace and Victoria Promenade hardest hit.
County Highways are waiting on Sol Central engineers to make a closer examination of the damage before they can re-open the roads. But gusts are forecast to continue above 30mph until the middle of next week, making that too dangerous.
A spokesperson from Northamptonshire County Council said yesterday (Tuesday): “For safety reasons Horsemarket from the Roadmender down to St Peters Way roundabout is closed until further notice.
“The roads are closed due to damage to Sol Central caused by the strong winds at the weekend.
“We understand that Sol Central is waiting for a structural survey to be carried out but this is unable to happen until the wind dies down – we are hoping this will be on Wednesday.
“In the meantime we are working with Sol Central managers and local businesses to resolve the issue and look at ways to improve the road network around this area to minimise disruption where we can.
“This includes hopefully being able to make a decision on Wednesday to remove the southbound closure on Horsemarket as this is further away from Sol Central.
“We advise people to look out for the diversion signs and plan alternative routes during this time.”
A video went viral of one passing motorist's lucky escape when a panel crashed down, missing their car by inches, as Sunday's storm hit Northampton with gusts of up to 70mph.
Met Office experts forecast gusts of 30mph-plus into next week with a yellow warning in force and the possibility of more damage to buildings in Northamptonshire when Storm Dennis blows through on Saturday.
Sol Central – which is home to Vue cinema, Ibis hotel, a gym, yoga studio and beauty salon – remains open.
But the complex owners, property investment company Palace Capital, issued a statement: "We're open and operational with businesses trading as normal.
"There is limited accessibility while external building assessments are being undertaken. We continue to work with the police, our tenants & our contractor to ensure public safety,"