Holywood listed building faces demolition

Green Party Councillor John Barry has today, Wednesday, 03 August 2016, highlighted his concerns at the collapse and probable demolition of a listed building in Holywood, 1 Stewarts Place.

Councillor John Barry said,

“It is a disgrace that this listed building has been allowed to fall into disrepair and I share the concerns of many residents who have contacted me on this issue.

“Unfortunately the law appears to be very weak. As a Council, it would appear that the only remaining option open to us was to ensure that the building and the immediate area are safe, which we have done.

“Unbelievably, there is no specific duty on owners to keep their historic buildings in a good state of repair but would think it would be in their interests to do so. Under the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 councils have statutory powers to take action where a historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its preservation may be at risk”.

“We need a conservation-led approach in all this to push for the building’s conservation, taking into account the expert advice of structural engineers to explore the full potential of conservation led approach- within the parameters of what is actually possible under health and safety.

“However, there is no legal basis to force the owner to rebuild and restore the building.

“In all likelihood, such is the dangerous state of the property, the entire building may be beyond restoration and may have to be demolished. I am angry that this historic building may be beyond repair, and frustrated as to the lack of legal protection for historic buildings such as this under current legislation.

“To address this, the law would need to be changed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. I plan to work with Green Party colleague Steven Agnew MLA to raise this issue with the minister in the Assembly.”

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