ALLIANCE Assembly member Kieran McCarthy (Strangford) has expressed his disappointment over a meeting with the Minister for the Environment about a 45-foot wall erected in Killyleagh without planning permission.
Mr McCarthy said residents, who have dubbed it the ‘Berlin wall’, are now taking up the issue with the Human Rights Commission. Today’s delegation was comprised of a number of elected representatives and residents affected by the wall.
Mr McCarthy stated: “For some time, it has been clear that the law is weighted against the ordinary person when it comes to objecting to illegal building and demolition by developers. Now it appears that the Department has caved in to developers too.
“Today’s delegation had only half an hour to make our case, about how this wall was casting a shadow over the quality of life of the people in Strangford View. It has become a monolithic symbol of what seems to be the right of the developer to trample over the views of the public while the Government stands idly by.
“Despite cross-party support in the delegation, there is still no end in sight to this mess, and the Department’s inaction has led to a loss of confidence in its ability to uphold the law. People are fed up with fine words about planning regulations and want to see real action.
“During the meeting, the Minister had said that the wall would not remain in its current form – which is very different from saying it will be demolished. The Chief Divisional Planning Officer, who was also present, announced that outline permission had already been given for a number of townhouses behind the wall.
“This bombshell was dropped on us without warning. It now appears that the planners have decided that the development on the other side of the wall will be going ahead no matter what, and the Minister is prepared to go along with another wall being built.
“Her words have provided no comfort to either my constituents or me. Since the Minister is unwilling to act and the developer still shows no sign of paying attention to planning policies, the residents have reported this to the Human Rights Commission.
“Their quality of life is being negatively affected by this monstrosity of a construction, and this may be the only way they can have their legal and human rights upheld.”