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Road closed after partial collapse of listed building in Holywood

By Linda Stewart

Published 22/07/2016

The derelict building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood
The derelict building at 1 Stewart’s Place in Holywood

A derelict listed building in Holywood partially collapsed yesterday morning.

A section of the town's High Street was closed after part of the facade of 1 Stewart's Place crumbled.

Concerns had been raised about the plans to demolish the listed building, which has been included on the DOE's at-risk register for many years.

Heritage campaigners said it was not to late to save the historic building.

Last night, a spokesman for TrafficWatch NI warned that the High Street between Stewart's Place and Priory Park was closed because of an unsafe structure.

A spokesman for Ards and North Down Borough Council also issued a warning.

"Measures are being put in place to protect the public from any danger presented by the remaining structure," he said.

"Due to the location of the building, immediately adjacent to the footpath and street, part of the High Street in Holywood is to be closed until the danger can be alleviated."

The building is one of a pair thought to have been built in 1840 by William Lowry and is named after a postmaster.

Councillor Andrew Muir, who has been raising concerns about the state of the building for some time, said it was not too late to save the structure from being pulled down.

He claimed that while some cosmetic work was carried out after the Department of the Environment issued an urgent works notice in 2011, the building had been allowed to slowly fall into rack and ruin.

"It could still be saved," he said. "The building is beginning to fall down, and the main issue is that it has been left in a terrible state. This is the first example of councils with planning powers having to deal with a high-profile listed building that is under application for demolition."

Earlier this week, Mr Muir warned that demolition plans for the building were being pursued in haste.

He said a meeting had taken place between the owner, planning department representatives, Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, the historic buildings unit from the Department for Communities, Hearth Housing and Holywood Conservation Group.

"A window of opportunity therefore exists to fully explore ways this historic building can be saved before a decision is reached potentially in September 2016," he explained.

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