The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, which is campaigning against the demolition of a fine Victorian building in Belfast city centre, has overcome a major hurdle in its campaign. A High Court judge has ruled that the UAHS would not have to pay a government department's costs should its application for a judicial review fail.
The society is trying to stop the Athletic Stores in Queen Street from being demolished. Carlisle Property Developments Ltd want to remove the building and replace it with a nine-storey complex with 69 apartments and street-level shops. Planning permission for the scheme was granted but the process is now being challenged through a judicial review.
In his ruling Mr Justice McCloskey pointed out that some people viewed the building as a 'prince among paupers' in a city whose built heritage had been depleted'.
Rita Harkin of the UAHS welcomed the decision and said, 'It's obviously a critical case which will establish whether Planning Service is prepared to use its own policy to protetc buiuldings in areas it itself has designated for their architectural or historic interest.'