McKeen blasts NIEA over Ballyloran House ‘eyesore’

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A LOCAL councillor has once again spoken out against the NI Environment Agency’s decision not to de-list Larne’s historic Ballyloran House.

The once-grand property on Ballyhampton Road - which dates back to the 19th century - was granted listed status in 2002, but the derelict farm house has since been extensively vandalised and become the cause of several neighbour complaints.

The Department of the Environment had asked the Historic Building Council to consider urgently removing the property from the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. But following a review, NIEA concluded that Ballyloran House “remains worthy” of its listed status.

Back in February, Larne Council asked NIEA to explain why it felt Ballyloran House should retain listed-buildings status.

And in a letter from the Department, dated July 16, NIEA’s director of Built Heritage, Michael Coulter said: “I apologise for the very long delay in responding – your letter was accidentally misplaced for some time.

“In relation to your concerns about vandalism and anti social behaviour in the immediate area, we have already urged the owner to take steps to repair the building and to place a tenant in it. This has been shown to be a highly effective way of securing a building from vandalism and anti social behaviour while decisions are made about its long-term use.”

At this month’s meeting of Larne Borough Council, elected representative for the area, Cllr Gregg McKeen said the issue of Ballyloran House had been “a bugbear” for him for quite some time.

He added: “I propose we go back to the Department and ask them what the architectural significance of this building is. It it starting to become a real eyesore, and we should go back to them and say we don’t agree with their decision.”

Cllr McKeen’s proposal was seconded by Cllr Bobby McKee and agreed by members.