Environment minister gives green light for dangerous factory demolition

Fri, 13/01/2012 - 13:52 -- Editor

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has given the green light for the demolition of the former Hamilton factory near Derry city centre.

The former Hamilton Shirt Factory which spans the space between the Foyle Road and John Street is in imminent danger of collapse and the decision has been taken to close a main route into Derry to protect the public.

Derry City Council's Anthony Tohill warned that the listed building could collapse in 'three hours, three days or three weeks' and if it fell it would be a 'catastrophic' collapse.The building is not listed but is in a conservation area.

Derry City Council has approved a Planning Service recommendation to demolish the former Hamilton Shirt Factory, at a special consultation meeting at the Council offices today.

Anthony Tohill, Strategic Director with Derry City Council said the decision was made as a result of the risk of collapse of the building and the need to protect public safety. He said discussions would commence immediately with the owner, who’s contractors are currently on site removing scaffolding, with a view to progressing with the demolition of the building, as a matter of urgency. It is expected that the demolition works will commence over the weekend.

Mr Tohill added that road closures and diversions put in place yesterday in the area around the site will remain in place until the area can be safely re-opened to the public. He assured the public that the actions being taken were necessary and in the interest of public safety.

“Derry City Council is continuing to work in close partnership with all of the relevant public sector organizations, emergency services, and representatives in the business community to assist in managing this situation, we are very grateful of the support we have received to date and would assure the public that every effort is being made to minimize disruption,” he concluded.Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: “No-one likes to see an old building, especially one which was part of the fabric and rich heritage of Derry go. But we have no real choice here. While I recognise that this is a building in a conservation area, the safety of the public and the ability of the public to go about their business is paramount. I therefore endorse this decision on health and safety grounds. But we must act quickly now to protect the welfare and safety of people and remain highly vigilant on this to ensure that happens. I have been actively monitoring this situation over the last few days. DOE Planning has acted quickly and decisively, now the landowner and Derry City Council must act likewise to ensure demolition occurs quickly.”