Northern Ireland

Anger at setback to plans to develop Bangor town centre

The vision for Bangor town centre
Image caption The vision for Bangor town centre

People living in the shadow of a long-delayed £100m redevelopment of Bangor town centre have spoken of their anger and frustration after the plan suffered another setback.

The Queen's Parade project has been in the pipeline for nearly 15 years.

It includes a hotel, convention centre, homes, offices and entertainment space.

An agreement between the developer and a government department was supposed to be signed earlier this year, but the timetable has slipped again.

The developer still needs to buy 11 properties to press ahead with the project.

King Street is situated on the edge of the planned site. One of its residents, Keith Ellis, is the only person living on his side of the street and now he wants to sell up.

Image caption Most of the houses on King Street are currently boarded up

"It has really just been turned into a slum and I have been left sitting here for the past eight years," he said.

"There are vermin, there is damp coming through. It is just getting impossible to live in. There's a tide mark coming in.

"The furniture is getting ruined. But I can't do anything. I have got a mortgage and I just have to keep on living there."

He said he no longer had any decent quality of life.

"I have three children. I mean bringing your friends back to look at this, it is really embarrassing for them," he said.

Canon Michael Flook's family have lived at King Street since the houses were built more than 100 years ago.

"We are part of the Queen's Parade development, but where is the development?" he said.

"We've been waiting 20 years for it. How much longer will we have to wait? I was a relatively young man when it started. I am into my senior years now."

Image caption Keith Ellis is the only resident living on his side of the street

He said there could not be any street like it in the whole of the North Down area.

"We have got Bangor in bloom... but when you turn off the Main Street this is hardly Bangor in bloom, it's blooming awful," he said.

The Queen's Parade project is being spearheaded by the Department of Social Development.

A department spokesman said: "The developer wrote to all the property owners in April 2012 advising them that he is seeking to commence discussions regarding the purchase of their property and the developer has since met a number of the owners.

"DSD considers that property owners should be allowed sufficient time, of at least six months, to consider any offer. The department does not intend using our compulsory acquisition powers at this time."

'Sound condition'

The developer, Karl Greenfarm Properties, did not want to make any comment.

North Down Borough Council said it last received a complaint about the uninhabited properties in King Street in May 2012.

"Following correspondence with DSD officials and the owner of the properties action was immediately taken by the owner to board and secure the properties in question," it said.

"The council's environmental health section has contacted the owner again this week and requested that a further property be secured. The owner has indicated that action will be taken as a matter of priority. At the same time the security of the other properties in the street in their ownership will be reviewed."

The council said that the properties themselves were in "generally sound condition and are not considered to be ruinous or dilapidated".

It said the developer was in discussions with the owners of the remaining properties on the development site with a view to buying their properties.