REPAIRS to a collapsed church wall in Kirkby Malzeard are finally set to start this month – more than two years after it was damaged during heavy rainfall.

The wall at St Andrew’s Church collapsed in February 2020 and has been blocking the highway opposite the village school ever since.

Harrogate Borough Council said there have been several reasons for delays to the “complex” project which has seen its projected costs almost double to £491,670.

The council said the works will start this month and end in September – and that these dates are best suited to the use of lime mortar which requires moderate temperatures to cure.

It also said the project required “detailed surveys and an extensive project plan” – including feedback from Historic England.

However, local councillors have accused the borough council of not listening to their “repeated” concerns over the delays and that other parts of the wall could collapse.

Councillor Jane Aksut, a member of Kirkby Malzeard, Laverton and Dallowgill Parish Council, said: “The parish council has repeatedly expressed concerns to Harrogate Borough Council about the revised repair plan.

“Original plans were to repair and restrain the 30 meters of wall that structural engineers assessed as ‘vulnerable to sudden collapse’.

“The new plans are to repair and restrain approximately 20 metres of wall, but this plan does not include restraints for the ten metre of wall below the church tower, which is directly opposite the primary school’s main entrance.”

Cllr Aksut added: “All of the work has been delayed by interventions from Historic England, who have raised concerns about the ‘visual impact’ of pattress plates needed to restrain the bulging wall.

“We regret that Harrogate Borough Council paid more heed to the view of Historic England rather than to the parish council and residents, who argued that a swift and robust repair to keep the wall safe and the road open for the long term, is more important than how pretty the wall looks.”

The plans were approved by the borough council in February when Historic England raised concerns over the repair method.

The body described the proposed repairs as “over-engineered” and said they would be “incongruous and harmful” to the setting of the Grade I-listed church.

A council spokesperson also said in a statement: “The repair of the church wall in Kirby Malzeard is a complex project. Not least because it is Grade I-listed and also where it is located.

“Therefore, the proposed works have required detailed surveys and an extensive project plan – including feedback from Historic England – before planning permission was granted.

“The repair work includes the use of lime mortar, this construction method requires moderate temperatures to cure so is best done over the summer period.

“These dates are also more suited to the adjacent primary school.”