Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Attwood issues vow on eyesore sites

Alex Attwood said the situation at the former Strand Hotel site had become 'intolerable'

Northern Ireland's Environment Minister has vowed to get tough on problem property developers whose sites become eyesores.

Alex Attwood hit out as bulldozers moved on to an abandoned site that has blighted a north coast beauty spot for over a decade.

The former Strand Hotel site, which overlooks Portstewart beach, was left unfinished for 14 years but is being cleaned up after a Completion Notice was issued by the minister.

"After 14 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. The situation was intolerable," said Mr Attwood.

The site is owned by Norman Menary. The Completion Notice was ordered because the developer had ignored requests to clear the site last year when the DoE spent £400,000 tackling dilapidated properties in the area ahead of the Irish Open, the minister claimed.

He said: "The developer did not budge. That is why I acted. I made it clear through my planners that the buildings must be demolished to foundation level and the site cleared and landscaped.

"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."

Until now, if a developer was granted planning permission they had to start the build within five years but there was no time limit on its completion.

The Completion Notice now requires construction to be completed within a specified time frame or planning permission would be revoked.

Mr Menary has appealed the Completion Notice and the case is due before the Planning Appeals Commission on May 8.

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