Abandoned building set on fire by vandals

Abandoned building set on fire by vandals

7 August 2013

ARSONISTS have again targeted the vacant Killough Road Community Centre in Downpatrick.

The building has been targeted on several occasions over the past few months and one local politician is urging Down Council — which owns the building — to bulldoze it as soon as possible.

Councillor Liam Johnston described the empty building, which was set ablaze last Thursday evening, as a “temptation to some” and hopes the proposal to demolish it will be implemented soon.

He explained Down Council has already agree to raze the former community centre to the ground and with many children still enjoying their summer holidays, he wants this work carried out immediately.

Councillor Johnston said the former St. John’s House residential care home and the nearby Pound Lane health clinic in Downpatrick were both targeted by arsonists before they were eventually bulldozed.

He said the Killough Road premises was one of several empty buildings in the town, including Down Council’s former headquarters at the Strangford Road and the former Downe Hospital.

Councillor Johnston wants the owners of all empty buildings to ensure they are secure and, if possible, bulldoze them to prevent them from becoming targets for arsonists and those who “revel in anti-social behaviour.”

“A new social housing development is under construction close to the former community centre and from a health and safety point of view, it’s important it is bulldozed,” he said.

“Empty buildings such as this are a hazard and the consequences of a child becoming trapped in a building deliberately set alight are too horrific to contemplate.”

Councillor Johnston says he is concerned that the local authority-owned centre which closed several years ago has now been targeted by arsonists on several occasions.

He added: “While empty buildings are an attraction to young people, they are also dangerous places which they should stay well away from. Parents need to reinforce a strong message to their children to stay away from empty and derelict buildings which are not playgrounds.

“Arson attacks also pose a risk to firefighters, neighbouring residents and property. Empty buildings which are no longer fit for purpose should be demolished.”