London

Highgate construction death site had previous safety concerns

Air ambulance Image copyright Kim Gray

The developer of a site where a man died in an explosion was already being investigated over safety concerns, it has emerged.

A man died at the building site in Highgate, north London, on Thursday.

Camden Council said a complaint made this month about the demolition of a brick wall was being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

In January, residents also raised concerns about the removal of fuel tanks at the former petrol station.

On Thursday, a builder in his 50s was taken to hospital after the "industrial incident" in Swain's Lane just after 14:00 GMT. He later died.

Image copyright @SianBerry
Image caption London Assembly member Sian Berry said she saw a petrol tank buried at the site on Friday

A 1930s row of terrace houses on the site of a former shopping parade is due to be replaced by eight new shops and 12 houses.

Camden Council said it received a complaint about the potential lack of hoardings around a wall that was due to be dismantled. It said there were concerns about the danger of falling bricks.

And during a meeting in January, local residents expressed fears pollutants from the three large tanks could leak during building work on the site.

Owners Noble House were aware of safety concerns but had claimed to residents there were "no indications of hazardous materials".

A report had also "indicated ways to deal safely with the underground tanks" developers said.

Highgate councillor and Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry told the BBC builders had been due to remove petrol tanks from the site this week.

She said: "It's absolutely shocking.

"I was there last Friday and saw a big tank that used to store petrol. The first stage of construction was taking these tanks away."

Image copyright @KennethTharp
Image caption Fire engines and ambulances attended the scene at a construction site in Highgate
Image caption Police remain at the scene on Friday

Local resident Kim Gray said the explosion "sounded like car bomb" and shook local buildings.

Ozan Yelken, 27, a supervisor at neighbouring Bistro Laz restaurant said: "I heard a very big bang, like a wall collapsing.

"I ran outside and it was very quiet for a few seconds then people started running into the construction site."

Mr Yelken said he saw workers removing a petrol tank earlier on Thursday.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was aware of an incident that took place in Swain's Lane and was in contact with the emergency services.

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