Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Significant funding boost for Derry’s Glassworks listed building-Durkan

Stormont Executive press release - Department of the Environment

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced £125,000 funding to help conserve a hugely important listed building in Derry.

The funding boost will be given to Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin to help them purchase The Glassworks, formerly Great James’ Street Presbyterian Church.

A grant scheme, run by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has been used to do this. The scheme, the NIEA non government organisation grant scheme, is available to charities to help them purchase listed buildings at risk and conserve their architectural and historic character. 

In 2013 the Minister provided extra support to the fund as part of a range of initiatives aimed at supporting the built heritage of Derry’s City of Culture. The Glassworks is the second building in the city to be helped under this scheme.

Minister Durkan said: “Today’s announcement is a significant boost for Derry’s built heritage. Our financial support will allow the building’s owners, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, to buy this long term building at risk. The Glassworks is a hugely important listed building within the city. Not only is it a fine building in its own right but it is also an important part of the Clarendon Street Conservation Area. As we have seen from the success of ‘Other Voices’, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and other events held in the building during 2013, it is also a very fine music venue. This purchase will allow plans to be put in place for the building’s conservation and for the venue to become an important part of the legacy of the City of Culture. 

“This is what my Department is about - supporting and encouraging the beneficial use of our heritage to realise its full economic and social potential. I look forward to providing further support once a scheme of repairs has been developed.”

The former Great James’ Street Presbyterian Church was listed at grade B+ in the 1970’s and is one of 11 such buildings in the Derry City Council Area. It has a strong internal space and a fine classical façade. However, it has been vacant and under used since stained glass workshops left the building in 2002. 

For the last ten years it has been highlighted on the NIEA’s Built Heritage at Risk in Northern Ireland register (BHARNI). This is designed to bring attention to such buildings and encourage their reuse. In 2008 NIEA introduced a grant scheme aimed at supporting charities to purchase such buildings. This is administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund. Available funds vary and are capped at £125,000 per building. Buildings have to be purchased at market value and a business case showing long term viability must be submitted. 

The other building supported under the scheme in the Derry City Council area in the last year is 31-33 Shipquay Street. This is one of the oldest buildings in the city and was at one time the city’s custom house. This vacant building at risk has been purchased by the Inner City Trust which is proposing to develop fashion related businesses in the building.

Notes to editors:

1. More information on the NIEA non government organisation grant scheme is available on the NIEA website. http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/ngo_grant_scheme-2 

2. This forms one part of the significant investment from DOE in the built heritage of the city in support of the City of Culture. NIEA has also invested in:

· The repair of 16 listed buildings at a total cost of £1,602,000 and the processing of a further eight applications.

· £250,000 to purchase two listed buildings at risk (Gt James’ Street Presbyterian Church, Old Custom House Shipquay St), and active engagement in regard to others.

· c.£53,000 on conservation works to a number of historic monuments in and around the city (Siege windmill Lumen Christi, Culmore Church, St Brecan’s Church, medieval churches along Lough Foyle).

· c.£107,000 on a range of archaeological investigations, digs and presentations during the year (Prehen House, Elagh Castle, Masonic Hall Car Park). Much of this work was in cooperation with Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service. A book on the archaeology of the city has also been jointly published.

· c.£165,000 on the Walls: repair works; graffiti removal; CCTV; a guide book and guide cards in 12 different languages; lighting scheme. Review of the Conservation Plan. Two ‘App’s’ are also being developed.

· c.£6,000 support for the Foyle Civic Trust to produce an exhibition on the city’s historic buildings.

· £3,000 support to the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society to produce a book on the city’s historic buildings.

· £15,000 support for the Holywell Trust to provide animation on the city walls, and to deliver the European Walled Towns Conference. Support in kind to deliver an earlier conference on the Walls.

3. DOE Built Heritage also held the following events during 2013:

a. The Listed Building Owners Forum, in ‘The Playhouse’ in February.

b. An enhanced programme of events for Archaeology Days in June. This involved work with partners such as Derry City Council, the NW Archaeological Society, the Prehen Trust, and the Holywell Trust.

c. A focus on the city for European Heritage Open Days in September. This involved a wide range of volunteers and stakeholders.

d. The EHOD thank you event for owners from across NI in November.

4. Work on all of the above will continue into 2014.

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