Four year battle to force demolition of derelict houses ends in success
by MARY MAGEE
At Longstone Street in Lisburn where derelict properties have recently been demolished are Alderman Paul Porter, Chairman of the Lisburn Housing Executive Liaison Committee and Alderman James Tinsley, Chairman of Lisburn City Council's Planning Committee.
RESIDENTS in Longstone Street were rejoicing this week after a long-running campaign to have four derelict houses which had become the focal point for anti social activity in the area demolished ended in success. Lisburn City Council said it had first served a Statutory Notice several years ago after receiving complaints about the houses being regularly broken into, used as drinking dens and set on fire by arsonists.
However the owners, who it is thought had bought the houses for development, went into administration during that time and the council seemed powerless to enforce the notice due to legal complexities.
The chairman of the the Council's Planning Committee Alderman James Tinsley said: "The owners were contacted by the Council's Environmental Health Officers and the properties were subsequently secured but continued to be broken into.
"A Statutory Notice was served on the then owners, under the Pollution Control and Local Government (NI) Order, to secure the properties.
"However, the owners went into Administration in early 2011. The Council served a notice on the Administrator on April 13 last year to ensure the properties were kept secure or alternatively demolished."
Derelict buildings bite the dust
The owners considered demolishing the properties but it was deemed too expensive and the Statutory Notice could not be enforced as insolvency legislation excludes administrators from enforcement action.
"Pressure continued to be put on the Administrator with regard to these properties and any prospective purchasers were informed of the need to demolish the houses," said Mr Tinsley.
"The properties were eventually sold and I am delighted that the new owner immediately undertook to have the properties demolished."
Mr Tinsley, who said he hoped the removal of the properties will mean things can now 'finally settle down' in Longstone Street, paid tribute to the residents for their involvement.
"It has taken years to resolve this problem and has been very frustrating but because of the legalities our hands were effectively tied for much of the time. I would like to thank all the residents I spoke to over this time and express my hope that things will improve for them with the removal of the derelict houses."
Alderman Paul Porter, Chairman of the Housing Liaison Committee, said: "Anti-social activity is a scourge for people, and in this case, particularly for the people who live in the vicinity of these houses that caused so many problems for so long. And of course to live beside burnt-out properties and homes destroyed by those perpetuating the antisocial behaviour is not good for anybody.
"I know people have been frustrated at the slow pace it may seem to have taken to get this problem on the way to being resolved. "I would appeal to any resident who may witness anti-social behaviour to please pick up the phone and ring the police to report the offenders," he concluded.