Belfast Telegraph

Cash woes halt work on historic Derry building

By Donna Deeney

Restoration work on a landmark building in Londonderry has ground to a halt because of financial difficulties.

The Cathedral School in London Street, a Grade B1 listed building, was awarded total funding of £1.5m —but the organisation appointed to oversee the project, Cresco Trust, has gone into administration.

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £832,000 to the project to turn the building into a social enterprise centre, with the rest of the money coming from the Department of the Environment (DoE) and the Tourist Board.

While the building is still surrounded by scaffolding, the construction workers are no longer on site.

The HLF reiterated its commitment to the project saying: “HLF awarded the Cresco Trust a grant of £832,000 in September 2009 to repair and reuse the Grade B listed London Street school, which opens on to Derry City Walls.

“We are aware that restoration work has temporarily stopped while project partners resolve financial difficulties.

“HLF is fully committed to continuing to support the restoration of this important historic building. We are working with all the partners to help them resolve the current situation.”

A DoE spokeswoman added: “The department is still committed to the project and continues to liaise with the other funders.”

Built in 1891, the Victorian schoolhouse was the primary school attached to the nearby St Columb’s Church of Ireland Cathedral.

After it closed as a school in 1995 it fell into a state of disrepair, but through this project it was expected to be restored and reopened as a venue for cultural and heritage tourism.

One of the key tenants for the newly-restored building was The Shoreditch Trust, an award-winning London-based charitable regeneration agency.

The trust was expected to open a restaurant and training facility, providing up to 35 apprenticeships each year for local people.

The HLF grant will also be used to support a programme of activities to enable the local community to learn about the history and heritage of the building.

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