Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Holywood fights to save Johnny the Jig

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is under pressure to preserve Holywood icon Johnny the Jig.

Alliance representatives Andrew Muir and Larry Thompson met senior officials from the NIEA and Tony Merrick, of Holywood Conservation Group, to discuss plans to delist many items across Holywood including Johnny the Jig, Cultra House, Comgall House at Camphill Glencraig and the old Post Office on High Street.

Afterwards, Mr Thompson said: “Johnny the Jig is an iconic statue by Rosamond Praeger, a well loved and respected local artist, which forms part of Holywood’s identity and should remain listed.

“We were encouraged to hear that NIEA is willing to receive any proposals for listing of buildings. I therefore used the opportunity to make the case for possible listing of the chemist located on the corner of Church Road and High Street, Holywood.

“At the conclusion of our meeting it was made clear that no final decision has been taken concerning the delistings with people welcome to write to the Environment Agency to make their feelings known.

“I encourage everyone to take up this opportunity, working together we can save Johnny the Jig.”

Mr Thompson said a study has recently been commissioned to examine the economic benefits associated with our Built Heritage.

He continued: “I hope this study will help put protection of our Built Heritage further up the agenda and that government will listen to local feeling and abandon the plan to delist Johnny the Jig.”

NIEA says it is currently carrying out a detailed review of all of the historic buildings in the North Down Council Area — including the buildings of Holywood.

“This review provides more detail on listed buildings through survey and research and ensures that all unlisted buildings which meet the statutory test for listing in the area can also be protected,” he added.

The statement does not rule out delisting some local landmarks.

“Each record is evaluated against detailed listing criteria, and the results, following consultation, will be published on NIEA's website,” he said.

“As part of the process, some buildings and structures will be found to no longer meet the legislative test that they be of ‘special architectural or historic interest'.”

NIEA is currently consulting North Down Borough Council and the Historic Buildings Council on proposals for new listings and delistings.

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