Alliance Environment spokesperson Anna Lo MLA and Belfast Councillor Laura McNamee have called on the Minister to work with Councils to ensure that unfinished developments are adequately secured. Her comments follow a debate in the Assembly. Cllr McNamee brought a motion to Belfast Council last September calling upon the Environment Department to review the existing legislation on dangerous structures
Anna Lo MLA said: “Undeveloped and abandoned sites are not only an eye-sore to the local amenity of an area, but also present substantial health and safety concerns including illegal fly-tipping, contamination, anti-social behaviour and the potential for dangerous abandoned or demolished sites to become accessed or used as playgrounds by local children.
“There are however several shortcomings in the powers that Councils have in order to deal with unfinished developments. Some of the definitions around unfinished sites are too vague to be used in court or Councils face planning restrictions and delays in how they can act to secure a development if demolition is required.
“I would call on the Minister to ensure that his Department works with Councils in order to fully comprehend the difficulties they face and the powers that they require in order to take the lead in a multi-agency approach at securing dangerous structures, dilapidated sites or abandoned building sites.”
Cllr Laura McNamee said: “We have seen many cases in Belfast where unfinished developments were not adequately secured which meant that they posed a serious health and safety issue, particularly for children who may not be aware of the dangers these sites pose.
“I was glad that Belfast City Council was able to support my motion and show to the Minister that we want to be able to do more but without clear powers there will be barriers and delays to the Council taking action.
“I hope that the Minister gives this issue the priority it deserves and ensures that Councils have discretionary powers made available to them to secure what are often dangerous sites.”