A SHOPKEEPER who saw his shop wall collapse says that he will be able to open in the next few weeks.

Structural engineers have assured Naeem Shakir that his business, in South Church, Bishop Auckland can reopen in the next three weeks.

The engineers identified the loose roof tiles and wall tiles and are now focusing on making the property watertight.

Mr Shakir said:“The community have been very supportive over the last few weeks it has been, and still is, a nightmare. We have had a lot of people checking to see if we are okay and if we needed anything and I really appreciate it.

“Thank you to the emergency services and the council for their help and to the community as well.”

The cause of the collapse was due over stressed wall-ties which snapped leading to the wall crumbling.

What caused the stress is still not determined however the engineers believe a number of factors contributed to the collapse.

Mr Shakir theorised that the vibrations of the buses and heavy goods vehicles travelling at speed through South Church could have played a part. A speed cushion sits opposite the shop, which many vehicles slow down for.

Arriva, the bus company that runs busses along the route, believes that explanation is "unlikely".

A spokesperson said: “The speed cushion in that location is a full width hump which cannot be driven over at speed without causing substantial damage to the vehicle. Whilst we are sympathetic to the shop owners wall, I find it unlikely that our vehicles have contributed in any way to the damage.”

Durham County Council have installed temporary traffic lights on the T-junction next to the shop while the scaffolding is up.

Stuart Timmiss, Durham County Council’s head of housing and development, said: “During and after the incident we have carried out emergency works to protect the occupants of the premises and the general public.

“We continue to work with the owner who has informed us that he is appointing a builder to carry out repairs, following which the traffic lights and scaffolding will be removed as soon as it is possible.”