Demolition work begins on five subsiding Downpatrick houses

Demolition work begins on five subsiding Downpatrick houses

11 July 2018

WORK has started to bulldoze a number of sinking homes at the Hunter’s Mill development in Downpatrick.

Internal and external cracks appeared at five properties at the development constructed on land formerly used as a football pitch. The two-storey homes at the Vianstown Road site were built over a decade ago, with subsidence issues linked to poor ground conditions in the area. 

In the wake of concerns about the buildings and residents moving out, the properties were purchased by the National House Building Council after they had been repeatedly targeted by vandals.

Neighbouring residents expressed concern about the vandal attacks and the impact the subsiding homes were having on the value of their homes.

The start of demolition work last week has been welcomed by the Stream Street Residents’ Association which has been calling for the homes to be bulldozed.

Last week, members of the community group along with Downpatrick councillor, Cadogan Enright, met with the new owner of the site, Gary Laverty, to discuss plans for its redevelopment.

Association chairman, Peter Smyth, explained it was a “long and tedious struggle” to persuade the an insurance company to consolidate the ownership of the houses affected by subsidence and to have the site placed on the market. 

“We were also delighted to get to meet the new developer to have a say in what should replace this eyesore that we have had to live with for the past 10 or more years,” he continued. “We appreciate the regular updates and copies of correspondence throughout that period and thank Cllr Enright for his help.”

The Downpatrick councillor said it was great to see the campaign for the demolition of the sinking homes finally moving toward conclusion. 

“There are still issues to be sorted regarding NI Water adopting the sewer system for the other houses in the estate,” he explained.

“This has still not been done, despite a ministerial order from Stormont Minister Michelle McIveen to do so. Hopefully, the need for a new sewerage connection for the rebuilt houses will spur NI Water to come up with a solution that will also deal with the existing estate as well.” 

Cllr Enright said he appreciated Mr Laverty taking time to meet with local residents and homeowners to consult them on what should replace the demolished houses. 

He added: “I am reassured that he has taken the best advice available on stabilising the site and avoiding the errors in piling that beset the original build at Hunter’s Mill.”

Earlier this year, NI Water confirmed the organisation has carried out an extensive investigation into the repair of the sewers laid by the original developer within the housing development.

The company explained that due to the ground conditions within the development, the sewers have settled extensively and confirmed that to repair them would cost in the region of £400,000.

An NI Water spokeswoman said work is required to stabilise the ground, manholes and the sewer with a report carried out into the ground conditions indicating that this work cannot be undertaken until the ground within the development has fully settled. She said the indications are that this will not happen for another 10 to 15 years.

The spokeswoman said given the very poor ground conditions and the associated costs, the situation at Hunter’s Mill is being reviewed by NI Water in conjunction with the Department for Infrastructure.