A Stoke Newington trader had a narrow escape when the front of a building on Stoke Newington High Street collapsed this morning.
May Linn Bang ('Maya'), who owns Knit with Attitude opposite, had just stepped out of her shop when the wall collapsed sending debris and dust flying towards her. She described it as: “a near death experience,” adding: “My lovely shop and myself are covered in dust. I’m shaking.”
At least two builders were on scaffolding when the cornicing on the front of Paramount Fruitier began to come down – one scrambled to the ground and ran clear of the falling debris, while another leapt up onto the roof as the scaffolding began to give way.
Local workers described hearing what sounded like a “bomb blast.”
The accident happened at 9.27am and has prompted questions from traders about the safety of older buildings on the street. A similar accident outside Stokey Vintage happened in March 2019 when falling debris narrowly missed a pedestrian.
Police and firefighters evacuated a section of the street yesterday (Friday) while they checked the building and used heat-seeking equipment to make sure no-one was trapped under the rubble.
Pankaj Patel, whose shop Paramount Fruitier was severely damaged in the accident, said the rubble had trapped his staff and customers inside.
He added: “Thankfully nobody was hurt – looking at all that debris; someone could have died. I’ve no idea when we’ll be able to open again.”
This video was taken by staff inside Paramount Fruitier shortly after the collapse.
Lee, a builder working on the site, was on the scaffolding when the cornicing collapsed. He added: “The stone balustrade fell away from the building – it’s at the highest point of the building. I was near the top of the scaffold when it fell. I had to balance, jump over the hole and run around onto the roof to escape.”
Locals say the scaffolding had been on the building for around 18 months as builders repaired brickwork there. This team of builders have been working there for a couple of months.
Police and paramedics at the scene said no-body was hurt in the incident.
Heidi Early, Chair of the Stoke Newington Business Association, said: “We are very relieved no-one was hurt but are very concerned a building can be allowed to get into such a state of disrepair. We will be asking the Council about their building inspections processes, health and safety requirements and enforcement of scaffolding firms and want them to ensure landlords are held to account about the state of their buildings.
“It is unacceptable that this happened in 2019 and utterly shocking it has happened again. It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.”