AN independent report has revealed what it would have cost to repair the Dorman Long tower.

The 180ft tower, part of the Teesworks site on the former Redcar steelworks, was demolished in the early hours of Sunday.

Teesworks leaders had pointed to a report by engineers Atkins to back up their argument for demolition ­– but were criticised after failing to release it to the public prior to the building being razed.

The report concluded it was "technically feasible" to re-use the structure, but said it was "prohibitively expensive" - citing demolition as a the most "cost effective" outcome. 

Read more: Work to salvage Dorman Long tower lettering underway as pictures show demolition aftermath

A copy of the 66-page engineering report was published by Teesworks today.

Atkins, which carried out a survey using a drone and digital photographs, said it was not feasible to retain the tower permanently due to its condition.

To retain it for 15 to 20 years, without providing public access, it said would cost £325k every five years, following an initial cost of £4.7m.

To allow for public access, it would cost £7.2m upfront, followed by £325k every five years.

Read more: 25 pictures of the moment Teesside's iconic Dorman Long Tower was demolished

But it said the tower would eventually have to be demolished, costing between £2.5m and £3m.

The report recommended the most cost effective outcome would be demolition by controlled explosion in 2021/22 - at a cost of £1m. 

The report adds: "Every other option requires the eventual demolition of the tower, which will become more expensive and constrained by the imminent and future development of Teesworks, and also includes an element of ongoing maintenance and management.

“Whilst the Heritage argument should not be dismissed, sources of revenue to support long term operational and maintenance requirements would need to be found. It is unlikely that the asset (attraction) itself could generate sufficient income.

“It is possible that an interactive ‘Digital Twin’ or a physical model (part or full) generated from the ‘Digital Twin’ might be a better heritage museum exhibit.

“Similarly, recasting the Dorman Long lettering and dedicating a part of the Teesworks site might be a fitting tribute.”

The Northern Echo:

Atkins was unable to inspect the inside of the tower due to health and safety reasons, it said, with many of the internal stairs and access walkways unsafe or removed.

The exterior of the building was inspected using a drone on July 2.

The drone inspection was conducted in several flights, using a Phantom 4 Pro to capture high definition still images and high-resolution video footage of the structure, supplemented by high-definition images from a DSLR camera.

As well as capturing still and video imagery a photogrammetry survey was undertaken to allow the production of a details ‘Digital Twin’ of the building.

The report said: “The structure, whilst clearly robust and not in imminent danger of collapse has exceeded its originally design life and deterioration is ongoing.

“Carbonation and associated reinforcement corrosion is underway and is extensive.

“Re-use of the structure may therefore be technically feasible but is prohibitively expensive and offers a limited life.

“Unfortunately due to the ongoing and extensive carbonation of the concrete cover and associated/ongoing damage it would not be feasible to extend the life significantly beyond 15-20 years.”

It added endemic concrete carbonation was causing reinforcement corrosion and concrete spalling which was ongoing and not reversible.

Following the demolition, Thompsons of Prudhoe is working on the site to process material from the tower and has said it will do its “very best” to retain some of the lettering to use for potential future use.

Campaigners had celebrated last week after what they thought was a successful bid to list the tower was lodged – with the hope it could become a hub to showcase the area’s cultural and industrial heritage.

The Grade II listing put the brakes on the imminent demolition of the 1950s tower, but it was later stripped of Historic England status after an appeal from the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the intervention of Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries in her first day in the job.

Past masterplans by the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) – which now owns the vast former steelworks land – envisaged the South Bank tower being used as a “landmark structure”.

The 2019 plan included a vision to see it retained and adapted as a viewing platform, climbing wall, or integrated into the heritage trail given it was near the Teesdale Way.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “As I’ve always said, this report shows it would cost taxpayers’ millions of pounds to repair the Dorman Long tower and millions more in the years that follow to maintain it – and even then there would still be no guarantee it would be in a suitable state to survive in the long term.

“I recognise many people will have found its demolition a sad moment given the structure’s history, but it was important to ensure we can move forward and that money is better spent bringing thousands of jobs to the site, which we are already doing, and start a new chapter in Teesside’s story.

“The best way for us to celebrate our past, is to build on it, learn from it and create an even better future for local people and to provide the opportunities that previous generations had in the iron and steel industry.

“The redevelopment of the Teesworks site is allowing us to do exactly that and bring the clean, green jobs of the future that the next generation can make a career out of and be proud of just as much as our parents and grandparents did on the old steelworks site.

“We will continue to work with the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, to capture footage and document the site’s history that will remind people that Teesside built the world.”

But Jessie Joe Jacobs, who stood against Mr Houchen at the last Mayoral election said: “It is so tragic to think that the Dorman Long Tower could have been saved. This tower meant so much to so many people and the least the people deserved was a genuine attempt to save it.

“Instead we got a rushed through report that the public couldn’t even see until after the tower’s destruction. This shows a catastrophic lack of foresight when it comes to the importance of our industrial heritage and a contempt for local democracy and due process.

“In my years of fundraising experience, the tower would have easily attracted significant heritage funds and could have stood proud for many generations to come.

“The Blast Furnace stands awaiting the same fate, yet if the mayor was willing, he could keep at least one small part of our past. This is his last chance to do the right thing.”

Former Redcar MP Anna Turley tweeted: “There are national organisations that help with funding for project like this. No effort was made at all. Shameful.”


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