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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Calls for Stormont to act over derelict town centre properties

Dunluce Street, Larne

The vice-chair of Larne Business Forum has urged progress by Stormont on derelict town centre properties.

Mark Dobbin is supporting calls for a change in policy that would enable councils to step in to make buildings safe. He also believes owners of derelict town centre buildings should then be billed to cover the expense.

Mr Dobbin says the law needs to change from Stormont that if a building is not maintained to a rateable standard, the owner must still pay rates, warning that otherwise there will be “more derelict town centre shops and more shops paying no rates”.

Mr Dobbin pointed out that Dunluce Street, in Larne town centre, a main thoroughfare, has been closed to vehicles for 17 months due to the condition of a derelict property.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has taken legal action over the building. A court order has been served on a property owner who was given three months to undertake repair work.

It is understood a council contractor is now due to commence work and the local authority has contacted Land and Property Services to seek rates support for businesses at Dunluce Street.

Dunluce Street, Larne

Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Councillor Roy Beggs said in an online post:

“I welcome the update given that council is progressing the essential work required to make safe buildings in the Dunluce Street area and it is hoped that the contractor will complete work by the end of April.”

Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen, who has urged the council to take action at Dunluce Street, welcomed the development saying: “It has taken too long, there needs to be a change in the law to allow councils to act quicker.”

In an online post, East Antrim DUP MLA Cheryl Brownlee said: “I have this week submitted a written question to the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to provide an update on the introduction of the Dilapidation Bill.

“This bill would give councils more powers to deal with abandoned, dilapidated and dangerous buildings, something which I know is a particular problem in East Antrim.

“Dilapidated buildings are not only unsightly but they can cause severe health and safety concerns and councils at present do not have the powers necessary to deal with this issue effectively.”

A quarter of properties in Larne town centre are vacant, according to an audit carried out by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council last year with an increase in vacancy and dereliction from 22 per cent in 2020 to 26 per cent in 2023.

Of these, 12 buildings are either vacant or derelict and deemed unfit for occupancy with Dunluce Street and Point Street the worst affected.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been asked for a comment.


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