Published Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said he ensured that a Completion Notice, a power held by DOE Planning, was served on the owner of the former Strand Hotel site.
Construction of an apartment block had begun on the grounds over a decade ago. But, while the foundations were laid and some of the walls were partially built, work then stopped and the apartment block was never completed.
The SDLP minister described the situation as "intolerable."
"The location is one of the most wonderful on the North Coast, damaged by this eyesore. As we come into the summer, this will now look different and better. I want to acknowledge the representatives and residents who long campaigned for action.
"After fourteen years, the Strand Road Hotel eyesore is no more. Some months ago my planners served, for the first time ever, a Completion Notice on the developer of the site, abandoned over a decade ago," he explained.
"The Completion Notice was served because the developer had ignored requests to clear and clean the site when £400,000 was spent on dereliction this time last year, in the run down to the Irish Open in Portrush and Portstewart.
"The developer did not budge. That is why I acted," he added.
"The Completion Notice requires construction to be completed or planning permission would be revoked, which in one move would collapse the value of the site."
The West Belfast MLA continued: "I will now look to see whether the same approach (of serving Completion Notices) can be deployed on other problem sites.
"In addition, next week, I am holding a summit for Councils - so that all Councils do what Belfast City Council does, deploy their substantive enforcement powers against eyesore sites.
"Good enforcement is the flip side of good planning. Today is an example of that."
The developer has appealed the notice and a hearing on the Completion Notice is before the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) next week, on 8 May, the minister added.
"In recent weeks however, my planners have been contacted - not by the developer - to move the situation on. I made it clear through my planners that the buildings must be demolished to foundation level and the site cleared and landscaped. I acknowledge that those who contacted my planners have now acted and the site is being cleared."
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