Landlord ordered to carry out repairs on derelict listed city
A Londonderry property owner has been ordered to carry out repairs on a listed building within a week, the first time the Department of the Environment (DoE) has taken such action in the city.
If work on the property is not carried out, the authorities will step in, carry out the work and charge the owner.
The tall, late Victorian building in the city’s Crawford Square is within the Clarendon Street Conservation Area and is on the Built Heritage at Risk register.
Despite repeated attempts by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to encourage the owner to take action, no works have been carried out.
Two formal warning letters were issued to the owner since August 2011 — prior to the urgent works notice.
The DoE has now issued a notice which outlines the action it will take to carry out emergency works if the owner does not initiate these within seven days.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “This is a tangible commitment to Derry’s rich heritage. Our listed buildings are jewels from the past which need to be conserved for now and future generations. Once gone they can never be brought back.
“That is why, following the heritage crime summit that I organised, I provided extra funding to ensure direct action such as this could be taken to protect our listed buildings.”
Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood, who serves as Assembly private secretary in the DoE, said the depth of feeling after the loss of the Hamilton shirt factory demonstrated that everything that can be done should be done to protect the built heritage of the Derry city area.
He added: “The loss of Hamilton’s factory last week gave voice to the depth of feeling in Derry, a voice which wishes to preserve the heritage which has been gifted to us from previous generations.
“Listed buildings are not only a preservation of architectural riches from our past, they also have the potential to attract much needed tourism to the city.
“The various components of their value should be nurtured for the betterment of the physical landscape of this city and beyond.”
The property on Crawford Square has been a listed building since 1979 but has been vacant for many years. It was nearing the end of repairs in 2008 when it suffered a major fire and the work failed to recommence.
While some efforts to secure the building were subsequently carried out, they were of a temporary nature and the property remained open to the elements, causing continual deterioration.