The front of two terraced houses has collapsed onto a pavement hours before scaffolding was set to go up.
Residents of Wellington Road, Ashton, Preston, woke to a loud crash early on Saturday morning, and discovered piles of bricks on the floor.
The road surrounding the front of 55 and 57 Wellington Road had closed by Preston Council at the beginning of March, following concerns that the wall linking the terraces was bowing outwards.
But before work could be done to stabilise the wall, the structure gave way.
Ward councillor Elizabeth Atkins said: “The council barrier went up three weeks ago, and the Building Control people at the council were in talks with the owners and their insurance companies.
“A tailored scaffolding system was needed, so not to put stress on the fragile bricks, and co-ordination between two insurance companies was taking a while.
“I’m told that the scaffolding was due to go up at the weekend, but in the meantime, the wall collapsed. The road was closed at the time, so no-one was at risk, but I think some danger signs need to go in.”
One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m worried that kids have been playing around the railings and a few times they’ve got inside and I’ve had to get out.”
Mike Eatough, owner of nearby Ashton Food, News and Wine, said trade has been affected by the three-week road closure.
He said: “Why have the council stood back for three weeks, let the insurance companies take their time and let this happen?”
A council spokesman said as the houses are privately-owned, their role was to advise on safety, and not take on the work of insurance companies.
He said: “Discussions are ongoing with the homeowners in a bid to resolve the situation.
“Public safety is the council’s paramount concern during incidents of this nature.”