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Belfast council in legal bid to block Chinese Consulate's metal wall

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A new metal fence has been erected around the Chinese Consulate on the Malone Road, Belfast

A new metal fence has been erected around the Chinese Consulate on the Malone Road, Belfast

A new metal fence has been erected around the Chinese Consulate on the Malone Road, Belfast

Belfast City Council has launched legal action to stop a metal wall being built around the Chinese Consulate.

The local authority went to the High Court today seeking an injunction to restrain any further work on perimeter fencing erected at the headquarters in south Belfast.

Lawyers for the council disputed any claims to diplomatic immunity over construction undertaken without planning permission.

But the case was adjourned after the judge was informed that work has temporarily ceased.

The security barrier, which reportedly replaced hedges, has provoked anger among some residents near the consulate located on the leafy Malone Road.

Following complaints, Belfast Council began an enforcement investigation and served a temporary stop notice until planning issues could be resolved.

Injunction proceedings were then commenced in an attempt to secure a judicial order for all associated building work to be halted.

Denise Kiley, representing the Council, confirmed in court that the action was being taken against the Chinese Consul General in Belfast, Madame Zhang Meifang.

"She is the occupier of the subject premises where, we say, works are being carried out in breach of planning control," the barrister contended.

Rejecting claims that Madam Zhang is entitled to diplomatic immunity, Ms Kiley described those suggestions as "bland assertions".

The hearing took place remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

During proceedings Madam Justice McBride was told correspondence from the consulate confirmed the building work has now stopped.

Welcoming the development, she agreed to adjourn the application for further discussions between the two sides.

Belfast Telegraph