Belfast Telegraph

Council puts off Kincora demolition decision

The door to room 14
The door to room 14
Inside one of the bedrooms
Walking up stairs towards the former bedrooms
The bottom of the main staircase
Leslie Black hopes to win backing
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Councillors in Belfast have deferred a decision on whether to allow demolition of the east Belfast building that was once the Kincora boys' home.

Planners had recommended that the City Council's planning committee should refuse an application from owner Leslie Black to raze the site, now known as Linden House, and build 12 apartments.

At a meeting of the planning committee last night, members chose to defer the decision until next month to allow for a site visit.

A committee spokesperson said: "There was a strong feeling among the committee members, 11 out of 14 were present, that the building should be demolished. It's unsightly and more importantly because of its history and all the bad publicity surrounding it over the years."

Mr Black, managing partner of Market Solutions (NI), said he welcomed the support of the committee members.

"This is definitely good news. In my view I think the planners played down the significance of the Kincora angle very much.

"At least three of the committee members were vociferous in asking why this building would be retained."

Mr Black has said planners objected to the demolition, in part, due to its historical and architectural significance.

"I argued to the committee that it was not of great historical significance. The three buildings beside it are also red brick, which is a completely different look to ours," he said.

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Leslie Black hopes to win backing

A planning report about the application has said the "impact of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area" took precedence, which made the demolition "unacceptable".

Mr Black has said he has been in limbo since 2015 about the matter and is open to discussions with the council about any future development. The notorious Kincora home was set up in 1958 to care for boys aged between 15 and 18, but was shut in 1980 when sexual abuse by staff and others was exposed.

This week, the Belfast Telegraph also revealed that at least 19 files on Kincora have been closed to public scrutiny, including one until 2085.

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