Poll: Battle to protect Norwich’s historic buildings from pigeons widens
12:00 22 October 2012
The battle to protect Norwich’s historic buildings from feathered invaders has intensified – as officials attempt to defend two more city attractions from their droppings.
Proposals to install pigeon-guarding systems have been put forward for the Bridewell and Shirehall, following a successful application for a similar idea at Norwich Castle. Mess on the pavement outside the Shirehall, in Market Avenue, below where the pigeons roost, affects access to the building for visitors according to planning documents from the Norfolk museums service.
The papers add that the droppings are also causing white staining to the stonework, which cleaning is “unlikely to remove”, as well as health and safety issues. At the Bridewell, the documents state the volume of pigeon waste creates a risk of “slipping on wet foul”.
Measures to deter pigeons from sills and ledges in the museum’s central courtyard were installed during a recent £1.5m refurbishment. But the plans reveal these are ineffective in many areas.
There are concerns at both sites that the mess stops workers being able to reach and clean out gutters and pipes to stop them getting blocked. There is a risk water could seep into the walls and damage the buildings’ walls if these are not unblocked.
Posts with thin wire on them are proposed for both buildings. These aim to stop pigeons from being able to roost or perch.
Museum officials are also bidding for cash to fund a similar defence system at Norwich Castle after the city council approved the plan. It is hoped these measures will protect the 11th century structure from further damage. The post and wire system was trialled and also checked by English Heritage before permission was granted, to try and ensure it will not ruin the appearance of the castle.
Stuart Garner, operations manager for Norwich museums, said: “We’ve had the pilot and we all agreed on the best way forward with English Heritage. We’ve got the majority of listed-building consent. Now, it’s preparing the documents for the funding.”
Mr Garner said it was Norfolk County Council’s responsibility to look after the attractions, but the city council has agreed to contribute 30pc toward the costs of pigeon-proofing them. No cost figures have yet to be made public.
Dr Will Fletcher, English Heritage’s inspector of ancient monuments in Norfolk, said it is difficult trying to protect historic buildings from pigeons.
But he said it involved pinpointing the ideal roosting locations and then installing new equipment without damaging the fabric of the building while ensuring it is “sympathetic” to its appearance.
Dr Fletcher said of the Norwich Castle plans: “It can all be taken away without damaging the fabric and leaving the castle intact.
“We will come back six to eight months or a year later down the line to see how effective it’s been.
“We are aware of the fact pigeons can be a problem elsewhere. We’ve talked about the issues, falconry and other options around the town but it pushes it from one place to another.
“There will be an ongoing issue and it’s really something for the people of Norwich to get involved in and we welcome their views.”