“I warned the planners on Friday afternoon..”

On Stormont Live today, DUP MLA Jim Wells called on the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson, to take action against a property developer who demolished a victorian terrace house in Newcastle, County Down, at the weekend without planning permission.. when there was no-one in the NI Planning Service office.. Adds The BBC’s Mark Simpson’s report is here. [new link] Update Additional BBC report. And what the NI Environment Minister has to say.

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  • The Raven

    Wow, isn’t greed good? There’s nothing like sustainable development, is there?

    Wasn’t it last year that a developer in the Newcastle tore up trees that had protection orders on them? Overhanging a spawning ground if I recall correctly. By the way, I have sent a second FOI in on this case, just to see what has been done.

    So. Relative impunity then. Are people happy with this? There’s hardly what one would call pressure on existing housing stock at the moment. Certainly not in terms of “luxury” “apartments”. Sustainable development, eh…?

    I’d be very happy to see this developer get slapped with a reinstatement order. But of course, many more would be happy to see bland, faceless, same-y blocks of anonymity be the landmark of the day.

    For all their faults, the Brits would never let this happen. And if it did, it would letter-of- the-law time.

    (By the way, my submission code word below is “develop”. Oh the irony.)

  • Nomad

    Seems like planners don’t really hold property developers accountable too often in these cases.

    Then there’s also a couple of things I can think of in Newtownards- in the past few years Blair Maynes listed house burnt down which I believe allowed development of it quickly after.

    Before that Castle Gardens was also set alight too in the midst of the Castle Bawn site.

    Kids eh..

  • fair_deal

    Don’t see why the investigation should stop at planning, there is video evidence of roads etc being blocked (without permission) and lorries parked on yellow lines do them for traffic offences.

    What about health and safety? Don’t know much about H&S;in terms of demolition but starting work beside an occupied building with no prior notice sounds iffy to me.

    Other developers also need to realise this kind of behaviour does their collective cause plenty of harm.

  • joeCanuck

    Having watched Mark Simpson’s report and seen the location of this building, it’s obvious to me that the developer should be slapped with a restoration order.
    The demolition company should be sanctioned too if possible.

    My code word is “design”

  • blinding

    Enforcing restoration orders is the way to go.

    And this demolition company should be charged under health and safety and pehaps criminal endangerment.

    And yes it is so easy just to leave a place derelict and then it conveniently gets burned down. I am sure local vandals will assist the developers possibly unknowingly.

    Restoration orders the way to go.

  • Marcus

    If Jim Wells was the Environment Minister we wouldnt have anything to worry about. Unfortunately for the DUP retaining their MP seats is more important than who is the better individual for the job.

    Sammy out!

  • qubol

    well done Jim Wells, whats the name of the developer? He should be publicly shamed.

  • rapunsel

    Unfucking believable that someone would so recklessly endanger the lives and property of the neighbours with this type of anti social behaviour for make no mistake that is what this was, nevermind the planning context. Hopefully there will be some redress and in terms of the idiots operating the machinery lets hope for some punishment there too.

  • The Raven

    Rapunsel, you should have been around Portrush a few years ago. One developer, who shall remain un-named here….oh, maybe….well…no, you all know him anyway…demolished an end-of-terrace house near Dhu Varren. Very like the one in the footage above.

    The neighbour’s kitchen then fell through. But my, what a to-do as the developer denied any wrong-doing, mobilising his well-paid and large legal team to ensure that the fight rolled on. And on. And on. For months.

    In this current economic crunch, my sympathies to honest developers and their workmen, who by no fault of their own find themselves utterly shafted. None, however, to the greed merchants that landed everyone else in, while shitting from a great height on the little people.

  • jim

    I understand that the developer is also a local architect, so he will have no excuse to claim innocence on such matters as notification, Health & Safety, legislation, insurance, planning regs etc etc

  • pith

    Wasn’t there a similar Sunday morning coming down routine performed in Armagh a few years ago? I seem to remember cottages of historical value being floored to make way for so-called development. Does anyone recall the outcome?

  • Jo

    A similar event happened off the Lisburn Road a few years back when Seamus Heaney;s former house was demolished.

    Ironically, the then Minister for the Environment, Dermott Nesbitt, had just been on UTV to say that the developer had assured him that he would not demolish the property. Then Paul Clarke read out a text from a neighbour to say that the demolition team had started knocking down the house.

    I went there shortly afterwards and saw the developer, from Seamus’s home county, assault a resident. The police did nothing. You could not make this sort of thing up.

  • Jo

    I would echo the “Well done Jim Wells” comment above.

  • Le Corbusier

    Wasn’t there a similar Sunday morning coming down routine performed in Armagh a few years ago? I seem to remember cottages of historical value being floored to make way for so-called development. Does anyone recall the outcome?


    It was Ogle Street in Armagh City. Listed and in the conservation area (otherwise known as the long-con area). Take a guess as to what happened…

  • pith

    Le Corbusier,

    I’ll take a wild stab in the dark. Nothing?

  • The Raven

    I’ve just watched Mike McKimm’s piece to camera on the Beeb’s site.

    This is an utter disgrace. That such potential loopholes even exist is bad, never mind the fact that the family next door has to have HSE, Building Control and others come out to assess whether or not they can live in their own home.

    How has this come to pass? I don’t often engage in blame, but aside from the developers, I hold our legislative body as much to blame for its lack of action in closing such loopholes.

    As for area plans STILL being in draft….don’t get me started.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I am wondering if the unfortunate souls next door called the police. It must be the case that some sort of crime was being committed here, as fair_deal says – blocking roads, creating a general disturbance, no permission of any kind from the authorities to do so.

    I hope that Sammy Wilson pursues this developer and makes an example of him. The planning system has it’s problems but this flaunting of the rules can’t be tolerated.

  • Pete Baker
  • pith

    What a dithering spineless response by the Minister on this incident.