Northern Ireland

Arc21: Remortgage bid rejected over incinerator 'uncertainty'

no arc sign
Image caption The Arc21 incinerator was initially given approval last September but has been the subject of much controversy since

A County Antrim man has had an application to remortgage his home rejected due to "uncertainty" around plans for a waste incinerator nearby.

Victor McCall lives on the Boghill Road in Newtownabbey, close to the proposed site of the controversial Hightown waste plant.

Last month, a court ruled a top civil servant should not have given the go-ahead to the plan.

That ruling is being appealed by the Department for Infrastructure.

Mr McCall's home is located about a mile from the proposed site of the Arc21 waste incinerator.

He has lived in the property for a number of years but borrowed money from a family member several years ago to help to buy it.

'Adversely affected'

He now wants to remortgage the house so that he can pay back his relative.

Mr McCall went to Santander to apply for a remortgage, which tasked a surveyor to come out and assess the value of the property last week.

On the surveyor's report, which has been seen by the BBC, the main issue with the property seems to be its location.

Under the heading titled marketability, the report reads: "It is not possible to recommend the property as a suitable security for mortgage purposes because of the current uncertainty regarding the construction of a large scale incinerator on the Boghill Road.

"This has been the subject of widespread media coverage.

"Demand and saleability is likely to be significantly adversely affected at this time."

Image copyright Survey report

Mr McCall said he was "devastated" by the report's conclusion and that he does not know what he will do.

"I'm still in shock, I'm grabbing at straws here to try and get a mortgage," he said.

"I believe the reason why I'm being affected is the possibility of this incinerator being put on the Boghill Road.

"If I'd had a bad credit history and got turned down I could look over it, but I can't do anything about (the incinerator)."

BBC News NI contacted Santander, the company who Mr McCall applied to for a mortgage.

'Limited saleability'

In a statement, they said: "As a prudent lender, prior to offering a mortgage or when re-mortgaging a property as in this case, we must ensure the applicant can afford the mortgage for the length of the term and also that there is adequate security against this loan.

"In this case, due to the property location, we were unable to lend because our independent surveyor believed the future saleability was limited."

Countrywide Surveyors, who carried out the survey of Mr McCall's property on behalf of Santander, said: "Countrywide can confirm that CSS (Countrywide Surveying Services) prepared a valuation on the instruction of a lender client.

"Under our contractual terms and client confidentiality we are unable to discuss the report further."

A date has also been set for the court challenge to the ruling that the Department for Infrastructure's decision to approve the waste incinerator was "unlawful".

The appeal, which will establish what decisions civil servants can take in the absence of ministers, will be heard on 25 June.

Mr McCall said the continued confusion over whether the plant can go ahead will mean more problems for him financially.

He has contacted other mortgage lenders in the hopes that one of them will grant him the money he needs.

The Department for Infrastructure has said it will not take any other regionally important planning decisions until there is clarity about whether civil servants can take action in the absence of a Stormont executive.

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