Go-ahead for historic gate lodge to become a home
Plans to transform a dilapidated Co Down gate lodge into a family home have been given the go-ahead.
Craigowen Lodge, designed by a pupil of Sir Charles Lanyon, has lain abandoned for years after being vested in the 1990s as part of a road-widening scheme on the Bangor to Belfast dual carriageway that never happened.
Now plans by Hearth Housing Association to transform the historic building into a three-bedroom home have won planning permission, although work cannot start until the transfer of ownership takes place.
Craigowen Lodge, designed by Thomas Turner, was built in 1851 and sits close to the Seahill junction on the A2 dual carriageway between Cultra and Ballyrobert.
The single-storey three-bay lodge is a B1 listed building built in an Italianate style.
However, it has suffered extensive vandalism and was torched a number of years ago.
Following the blaze a tin roof was put on to protect the interior.
Alliance councillor Andrew Muir, who has been campaigning to save the building for years, said the planning approval outlines detailed proposals to ensure careful restoration in keeping with the unique style of the building while also facilitating modern day use.
"Considered to be an example of the Italianate style of architecture, approximately 40,000 vehicles pass the dilapidated building each day with a tin roof now in place following an arson attempt a few years ago," he said.
"I am delighted to report that full planning permission has now been granted for restoration of Craigowen Lodge.
"This is an important next step in the campaign to save the lodge after previously securing the support from the Regional Development Minister to transfer ownership to Hearth Housing Association.
"I would like to commend Hearth Housing Association for taking this project forward and have every confidence the association will deliver an excellent job as renowned experts in restoring historic buildings.
"With the building in a perilous state, its vital work continues apace.
"I will therefore continue to lobby and support efforts to realise the dream set out within the recently approved plans and hope funding and contractual matters can be sorted without delay."
Marcus Patton of Hearth Housing Association said the plans hope to add on a sympathetically designed extension to transform the original two-room lodge into a three-bedroom house.
"The original lodge was tiny, as a lot of gate lodges are, but it has very attractive sculpture on it and stone carvings," he said.
Mr Patton said the housing association had been involved with Craigowen Lodge for at least eight years and will be able to begin the restoration of the building once it acquires the title deeds from Roads Service.
The planning approval is for the rehabilitation of the existing derelict building as a house "including the demolition of modern returns and creation of an extension with bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen to the rear of the property".