RAAC: Derby City Council confirms that crumbling concrete has been found at the Assembly Rooms

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Assembly Rooms has RAAC but demolition works move step closer

Work is currently taking place to ensure Derby’s Assembly Rooms “remains safe” from collapse after Derby City Council confirmed the building contains the crumbling concrete which has made national headlines in recent weeks.

Leading councillors in Derby say they are aware of the extent of RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) at the famous city centre venue which is due for demolition.

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RAAC has made national headlines over the past two weeks with schools and theatres forced to suddenly shut their doors after it was found within buildings.

The start of the new school term has had to be delayed at 19 schools across the UK. Several theatres have also had to close with gigs and musicals cancelled as a result.

Derby’s Assembly Rooms has stood empty for several years with a current plan in place to demolish it. The city council was asked to respond after it was noted from a report in 2020 that a plan to refurbish the building would cost millions of pounds more and “would also require the roof planks made of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) to be completely replaced because of the danger of them failing.”

A Derby resident told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “After the fire when the council were talking about demolition the council mentioned that the roof had RAAC concrete. So why is it still standing and why did the council spend a lot of money on it before the fire if it knew it was unsafe?”

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Responding to the concern, Councillor Nadine Peatfield, cabinet member for the city centre, confirmed the venue’s link with RAAC but said work was in progress to “bring forward plans for the site”.

She said: “The council has been proactively working to understand the condition and safety of the Assembly Rooms site for some time. We are aware of the extent of RAAC in the building and works are continuing to ensure the building remains safe.

“The building is earmarked for demolition and the relevant planning consent has been granted. Work is under way to bring forward plans for the site, which must be in place before the building is demolished.”

Earlier this year fresh calls were made for the Assembly Rooms to be demolished as soon as possible as it was said “people are getting fed up of seeing it”.

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A number of Derby councillors said they wanted the bulldozers in urgently and for a “meanwhile use” replacement sorted for the “eyesore” city centre venue to help bring in more footfall while the long-term plans for the site are planned.

However, campaign group the Twentieth Century Society Group – which raises awareness of outstanding UK buildings that are at risk – hit back at the comments and said that the proposed demolition of Assembly Rooms was “needless”.

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