Historic sites fall into rack and ruin

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PORTRUSH councillor, Christine Alexander, has won the backing of her colleagues in demanding emergency repair work be carried out on some of the borough’s most historic buildings to save them from falling into ruin.

Councillor Alexander, who is currently involved in a private scheme to clean up dilapidated buildings in her home town of Portrush, read a statement to a full meeting of Council last Tuesday night.

In it she called on the Historic Monuments Branch of the DoE to step in and enforce repair orders against the properties’ owners to “safeguard the buildings from further deterioration.”

Councillor Alexander listed nine sites which she felt were in immediate danger including Portrush Railway Station; Corrstown House, Portrush; Seaport Lodge, Portballintrae; Mount Pleasant, Coleraine; Workhouse/Old Hospital, Coleraine; Cloth Workers Building, Waterside; Cromore House Gate Lodge, Portstewart; 20/22/24/26 Bridge Street, Coleraine; and the McNaughton Estate Gate Lodge, Bushmills.

And The Times has learned that Chief Executive and Town Clerk of Coleraine Borough Council, Roger Wilson, has wasted no time in drafting a letter to the Historic Monuments Chief Executive, John McMillen, in which he lays out the councillor’s concerns.

The letter lambasts the agency’s “apparent lack of action” at the nine sites - some of which were promised immediate attention more than a year ago.

The letter reads: “In one particular case, HB03/07/002 – Corrstown House, Portrush, Council received a comprehensive reply from the Minister at the time Edwin Poots in February 2011 which outlined the powers available to the Department should property owners not safeguard the condition of listed buildings.

“Since then the ongoing deterioration of this building has continued unchecked which would suggest that the policy of “dialogue with listed building owners” is not working.”

A copy of the letter will also be forwarded to the current Environment Minister, Alex Attwood.