Derelict buildings in Carrickfergus town centre are to be transformed following a £1.7 million cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Awarded under the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), the investment will see the restoration of key properties in the retail heart as part of an overall £4m plan.
These include Kelly’s coal office on Marine Highway, the former Murtagh’s barbers and Hulme’s delicatessen in West Street and the old jail cells at Antrim Street.
They are among 21 priority properties identified following public consultation.
The THI scheme promotes the repair, restoration, and sustainable re-use of vacant or derelict buildings that positively contribute to the townscape character of historic urban areas and generate physical and economic regeneration.
Welcoming the support, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “The joint application with Carrickfergus Regeneration Partnership is a huge boost for the local area and will play a significant part in continuing the work to further establish Carrickfergus as a heritage tourism destination and as a fantastic place to live, work, and shop.”
MEA Council is also making a significant contribution towards the initiative with £550,000 of investment over the expected five-year programme as well as commitments around providing specialist staff resource.
In total, the public and private sector financial commitments to the scheme could see up to £4m of investment into derelict and dilapidated properties across the town centre conservation area.
Whilst MEA Council will receive the grant, the project will be led and delivered on the council’s behalf by the regeneration partnership, a non-profit company whose mission is to stimulate and oversee projects that enhance the town for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens.
David Hilditch MLA, chairman of Carrickfergus Regeneration Partnership, said: “This major initiative follows on from the public realm improvements and will ensure that the quality of our built heritage more closely matches the quality of our built environment.”
In addition to bringing life back to unused properties, the scheme aims to educate the public about local heritage and the importance of sympathetic restoration of buildings within conservation areas.
Heritage Lottery Fund Northern Ireland Committee Member, Mark Glover, commented: “Carrickfergus is a wonderful example of living heritage. In addition to the fascinating historical sites right in the heart of the town, the medieval street layout which has been largely maintained within the town wall boundary gives a real sense of history and heritage which it is vital that we retain.
“This is an exciting project which will demonstrate how conservation and economic regeneration can be complementary goals.”