THE owner of a partially-collapsed building has warned it is a ‘ticking time bomb’ and fears someone will be killed unless he is given permission to demolish it.

Jack Cooksey bought the former registry office at 74 Abbey Road for £110,000 at auction in January.

He hoped to develop the building to ‘improve the look of the town centre’ but in May part of the roof collapsed leading to High Street at the rear being closed by highways.

Structural engineers have warned that the building is at ‘imminent risk of total collapse’ and advised that it must be demolished as soon as possible.

Because the building is in a conservation area Mr Cooksey needs to obtain permission from Barrow Borough Council to carry out the work.

Nothing can be done until discussions between Mr Cooksey and the council have concluded but he fears the building will collapse before the process can be completed.

“It’s a ticking timebomb,” the 29-year-old offshore contractor said.

“There’s a very high risk of it collapsing; it could happen at any time.

“I’m really concerned about the risk to the public; I’m terrified someone is going to get killed and this work needs to be done now.”

Although the next planning committee meeting is not scheduled until July 10 council bosses have said they will try and hold an additional meeting sooner to deal with Mr Cooksey’s application.

Planning manager Jason Hipkiss said the council would ‘be as accommodating as we can’ but the formal procedure must be undertaken properly.

“We are still waiting for some supplementary information as part of the application and until we have that it can’t go before the committee,” he said.

“All options have to be explored; you can’t just knock down a building in a conservation area.

“We need to know what they intend to do with the site if they do demolish it.”

The demolition, and any redevelopment of the site, will be a significant project given the two adjoining buildings; the Furness Railway and DS Fitness, and the need to protect the integrity of the remaining external walls.

Mr Cooksey said he has not yet decided what to do with the plot once the building is demolished.

He has vowed to ‘invest in the development’ with input from the Barrow community but says his priority is ensuring the safety of the public and demolishing the building as soon as possible.

“My primary objective is to redevelop the site but coming up with plans and drawings doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

“I’m the one who would be prosecuted if it collapsed and killed someone and I’ve barely slept for three weeks through worrying about it.

“The scaffolding we’ve put up isn’t in any way stopping the building from collapsing it’s there to assist with the demolition once we’re allowed to start.”