Alliance North Down MLA Andrew Muir has welcomed news that a Dilapidation Bill for Northern Ireland is expected to be introduced at the start of the next Assembly mandate but called for implementation to be fast tracked once enacted.
A Dilapidation Bill would consolidate and enhance existing legislation to better allow District Councils in Northern Ireland to safely deal with dilapidated and dangerous buildings and neglected sites in their local areas. In response to an Assembly Question from Mr Muir, the Minister for the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, confirmed that he did have plans for such a bill, and hopes to introduce it early in the next Assembly mandate, which is due to begin in May 2022 at the latest.
Mr Muir said: “I welcome the fact that there are plans in place to bring forward a Dilapidation Bill. For years I have been calling for comprehensive legislation that would allow councils to actually deal with dilapidated buildings, and I am pleased that the Minister agrees that this is necessary”.
“In my own constituency of North Down, a number of dilapidated buildings continue to blight neighbourhoods but yet remain for years without concerted government action to intervene. The best example locally is perhaps Gray’s Hill where many buildings have been left in a dilapidated state for well over a decade with boarded up premises plus fake doors and painted windows on the derelict buildings still in place after the intervention was launched back in 2014 by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan. Seven years later the Department for Environment should have moved much faster and better to give Council’s powers to intervene and sort the rundown buildings”.
“While I would have preferred the legislation to have been introduced prior to the end of the current mandate, it is at least good news to hear that the Minister considers the issue a priority for the next mandate but with passage only due to commence next year, implementation, once enacted, must be fast tracked. I will continue to push for updates on work that is being done by the department”.