Friday, 2 October 2009

UAHS win right to challenge Queen Street development

Following on from their objection back in August, the UAHS have now won the right to challenge the redevelopment of the EdCo/Athletic Stores building on Belfast's Queen Street.

A surveyors report on the condition of the building concluded that it was now over 110 years old and at the end of its useful life.

It was stressed that the plan was to replace it with a "sympathetic" development without the major faults and safety risks said to currently exist.

The developer's legal team criticised the UAHS for taking 11 months to bring an objection to the planning application, claiming this had caused significant financial pressures.

It was also stressed that the current building was, in parts, dangerous and beyond economic repair.

But granting leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Weatherup held it may be arguable that the proper approach to its removal was not followed.

"When it comes to conservation area buildings it seems to me there are considerations that go beyond the economic case," he said.

He stressed, however, that the case simply called for further explanation from planning authorities which may satisfy the court.

Listing the full judicial review hearing for December, Mr Justice Weatherup was told by a lawyer for the developer that he would recommend giving an undertaking not to carry out any work on the site until proceedings are completed.

Speaking outside the court, Rita Harkin, research officer with the UAHS, said: "This is an absolutely critical case which will expose just how effective conservation areas are in conserving the historic buildings which give them their character."

BBC News: Challenge to Victorian demolition
PLACE Blog: UAHS objection to redevelopment on Queen Street

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