Work to clear an historic church wall of vegetation is due to start soon after concerns were raised about the appearance of cracks.

Totnes Town Council, which is responsible for the maintenance of St Mary’s Church wall at Ramparts Walk, commissioned a structural survey of the wall.

The survey recommended the wall should have a dry top and base to help preserve its structural safety – meaning it must be kept clear of vegetation.

At present there is ivy growing along the top and base of some sections of the wall, and Ramparts Walk is congested with vegetation growing in the gutter.

Clearing this away will reduce the retention of water and allow the gutter to function properly, members of the recent Council Matters committee were informed.

Work will now be carried out to remove the self-sown grass, plants and ivy from the gutter area at the foot of the wall to the path, the ivy from the top of the wall and any plants growing into the wall whose roots may cause a long-term problem.

The work will be carried out for free by the Probation Service’s Community Payback Scheme where offenders are supervised to carry out physical work in their community to ‘pay back’ the community for their crimes.

The report from the structural survey conducted on the wall says: “The wall is in fair condition but in need of some repair and maintenance due to being significantly affected by ivy and vegetation growth, primarily at high level.

“There are also areas of weak and open-jointed pointing and stonework, all requiring localised repair and repointing.”

Once the vegetation is removed repairs can be carried out.

The report suggests stitching the wall using 6mm stainless steel hell-ties, resigned into stone and fixed into mortar.

All repointing should be done with a lime mortar and the re-bedding of the coping stones.

Access for local residents and other people using the walk will be maintained as much as possible to minimise disruption, says the council

Town clerk, Catherine Marlton, said: “We wanted to let everyone who uses Rampart’s Walk or lives nearby know what work we’re doing and why it is important.

“We expect clearing to start in the coming weeks, most likely taking place on a Saturday over successive weeks.

“We’ve successfully applied to the Probation Service for this vegetation clearance work to take place as part of the Community Payback scheme.

“The Probation Service are aware that this pathway is used by residents and people transiting the town and will work to ensure access at all times.”