The owner of the derelict site at the former Clendinnings factory in Lurgan has claimed anti-social behaviour is hampering future development.
Mr Philip Bassett said he was eager to develop the site but consistent anti-social behaviour was hampering plans.
Mr Bassett said: “I would like to develop the site but there is a range of things preventing it.”
He cited anti-social behaviour as a primary reason saying that the problem was affecting house prices.
The developer was speaking after protestors gathered on Monday at the former factory demanding action from Mr Bassett and asked that the site be secured.
Local residents are angry claiming the site needs to be properly secured to thwart anti-social behaviour.
Pressure is mounting on Mr Bassett to secure the site after the PSNI issued a hard-hitting video on social media outlining the dangers on the site and how it is affecting local residents.
The police post on Facebook described children being drunk, unconscious, covered in urine at the site which has become a drugs den.
Speaking about recent reports that residents in Allenhill Park had been attacked, Mr Bassett said: “It makes the hair stand on the back of my neck to think people are not safe in their own homes.”
He said he had been in contact with stakeholders such as the police, the local council and political representatives. “If we could get a genuine community response to deal with anti-social behaviour, I am keen to get the area developed,” he said.
He claimed to have been in touch with the NI Housing Executive and said NIHE cited the area as a ‘flashpoint’ location which made it unsuitable for social housing.
He suggested that CCTV cameras could help curb the anti-social issue.
He also claimed that few builders are willing to work on a site where there is anti-social behaviour.
He said he is constantly securing the site on an ongoing basis but that when fencing is mended it is later damaged. “If someone wants to get onto the site they will get in,” he said.
A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “The Housing Executive do not own the land at the old Clendinnings Factory site.
“The presence of issues such as anti-social behaviour would not preclude a site from the potential development of social housing. The Housing Executive are always willing to engage with any individual who can proactively address the local housing needs issue through the identification of potential sites for social housing.”
However, Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian said it was Mr Bassett’s failure to secure the site and develop it that has attracted anti-social activity.
“It is his responsibility as a developer to secure the site. He has a responsibility to listen to the community.
“It has become a honeypot for young kids coming from Portadown, Aghagallon, Derrytrasna and other areas because they can drink and not get grief from police,” he said.
“He cannot leave this site as it stands. If he does refuse to secure it, I will be asking all the public bodies to look at enforcement.”
Both Cllr Haughian and Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd joined residents at a community protest at the site on Monday night.
Mr O’Dowd said: “Young people from a wide area are gathering nightly and the site has become a hotspot for drug and alcohol abuse and other anti social behaviour. There are also genuine concerns for the safety of the young people who could come to serious harm This scenario can no longer continue. It is time for the landowner to make a decision and either sell or secure the site.
“Residents have had enough. They are the victims and we are here to stand with them. I hope the landowner is listening. We call on him to take action. Everyone deserves peace in their own homes.
Cllr Haughian said: “Sinn Féin members have patrolled the area along with PCSP members, the PSNI and the North Lurgan Community Association every weekend over the course of the past year. Sadly the situation has continued.
“I call on parents to know where their children are at all times. Too often we have witnessed parents dropping young people, from across the Borough, at the site entrance. This site is not a safe place for any young person. The landowner must now address this. Failing that he should sell the site for development.”
Sinn Féin will be meeting with senior Council officials to urge them to take legal action to secure the site if the landowner fails to act.