Scottish Mutual building hotel project hit by end of listed grant
The developer of a major hotel project is hoping to find out early next year whether it is able to plug a huge funding gap caused by a government freeze on grants for listed buildings.
Plans are under way to turn the six-storey Scottish Mutual building behind Belfast City Hall into a 40-bedroom hotel.
But it's now one of the first listed building projects to be hit by a grant freeze - leaving a shortfall in the project's funding. It had hoped for more than £500,000 towards the £12m project by the Ballymena-based Hill family, who own the Galgorm Resort & Spa.
It's understood the group, Tullymore House Ltd, has now been involved in early discussions with Belfast City Council in regards to possible funding.
Northern Ireland's draft budget indicated there will be no Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) funding for any 'listed building grants' in future. That could mean an end to financial support, often required to undertake 'sympathetic restoration' work.
Nicola McVeigh of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society said the end of listed building grants will impact on a variety of projects, from large scale developments to country houses and cottages. "Listed building owners often struggle to raise the capital to cover the conservation deficit in restoring and maintaining our historic buildings.
"The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society recommends that owners, trusts and businesses who are often dependent on grant aid from NIEA continue to be supported in maintaining irreplaceable thatched cottages, and other important historic buildings," she said.