Some of the oldest roadside walls in Lancashire could be set for their first significant repairs in centuries, if a bid for government cash is successful.
The so-called ‘retaining walls’ were typically built in the 1700s during the industrial revolution and have undergone only minor maintenance since they were erected.
But papers presented to Lancashire County Council’s cabinet reveal that the structures are now showing “signs of severe deterioration and possible failure”.
Members have approved plans to apply for £3.2m from the government’s Local Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund, with County Hall set to contribute a further £792,000 towards the cost of the work.
The money would be used to repair walls over three metres in height and the majority of those set to benefit are located in Pennine Lancashire, where the structures often run alongside water courses. If the cash comes Lancashire’s way, a list of priority repairs would be drawn up, based on a combination of a wall’s condition and its potential impact on the highway network.
Deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, County Cllr John Fillis, welcomed the bid for funding, but queried whether the authority would be able to carry out the repairs even if it were successful.
“My concern is that these walls are dry stone with a bit of mortar in – have we got the skill base to deal with this type of structure?” he asked.
Cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon, said that his department had the necessary “expertise”.
“I was out with our stone-walling crew recently and they make an excellent job [of it].”
The cabinet was told that it had historically been difficult to fund work on the walls because of a focus on preventative maintenance projects on other parts of the road network.
The authority will learn whether its bid has been selected by the end of the year.