Council hears of ‘bit of a rave’ use for derelict building at Glenarm seafront
A derelict seafront building in Glenarm has been used for anti-social behaviour and “a bit of a rave”, a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Planning Committee has been told.
Coast Road Sinn Fein Cllr James McKeown was commenting on renovation plans for the disused Eglinton Barn and former office building at the meeting in The Braid, Ballymena, on Thursday morning.
A decision to approve the demolition of a derelict council-owned building in Glenarm has to be ratified by the Department for Infrastructure, councillors also heard.
Larne Lough DUP Alderman Paul Reid stated that demolition of the building and the removal of a roof at Eglinton Barn to facilitate wall repairs is a matter of health and safety.
The local authority has proposed the removal of the roof and gable walls at Eglinton Barn, the re-pointing of existing stonework and demolition of the former office building and boundary wall.
Head of planning Paul Duffy told the committee that demolition would occur within a Conservation Area. He noted that Eglinton Yard comprises of an enclosed courtyard location at Glenarm Harbour.
He explained that demolition in a Conservation Area is normally permitted where it makes “no material contribution to the appearance of the area”.
“In this case, only partial demolition of Eglinton Yard is proposed. The barn roof is currently in a dangerous condition.. It will allow repairs to be made to stonework.
“Eglinton Yard in its entirety makes a positive contribution to the Conservation Area. The former office building does not make a contribution.”
The officer went on to say that no redevelopment scheme has been proposed.
He indicated that the application would have to be referred to the Department for Infrastructure for a final decision.
Larne Lough Ulster Unionist Councillor Keith Turner asked if there was a timeline for repairs to be completed.
“Is there a chance it could be left in a state of disrepair and start to fall apart to an even worse state than it is now?” he queried.
He was advised that the removal of the roof will allow for repairs to be done to the walls.
“It will prevent the building from deteriorating further. Ultimately it will be a matter for the Department,” Mr Duffy replied.
“Our capital projects team are looking at what would be appropriate options for the redevelopment and regeneration of Eglinton Yard. and they intend to bring forward proposals in due course.
“There is no final scheme for regeneration of Eglinton Yard proposed.”
Ald Reid commented: “The driving force from what I am hearing, this is a health and safety issue. If we do not repair the roof, there is a health and safety issue.”
Mr Duffy confirmed that the roof of the barn is “in a “dangerous condition”.
Ald Reid continued: “There is urgency. We do not want anyone getting hurt, or worse. We are legally obliged to inform the Department this is a serious health and safety issue.”
Cllr McKeown said: “There has been a number of reports of anti-social behaviour at one stage and a bit of a rave going on in the barn.”
Mid and East Antrim Mayor Alderman Noel Williams proposed that the committee accepts the planning department’s recommendation to approve the application.
Cllr McKeown said he was “happy to second” before it was agreed unanimously.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council says that in partnership with a sub-group of the Glenarm Steering Committee, it has been working on a “design master plan” for the development of some key features of the village.
It has indicated that the Eglinton Yard barn will “undergo some works to address issues with its roof, which is in poor condition, and this will allow council to preserve the heritage value of this historical asset and potentially open up the Eglinton Yard for future community use”.
The council is to appoint a consultancy to develop plans for Glenarm seafront following the collapse of a proposed high profile tourism venture for the village after previous plans for a hotel and visitor distillery failed to progress.
Meanwhile, a neighbouring derelict council-owned seafront property was gutted in a blaze in November 2020.
It has emerged that when officers lodged a claim with the authority’s insurance company, the company claimed that an exemption applied to the policy and “would not agree to cover the works”.
It was stated that the council’s insurers required a complete list of all council assets, and at the time, the former fish factory premises were not specifically listed.
The 1.26 acre Eglinton Yard site was on the market in 2018.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter