Charity takes over Northern Ireland courthouse in first 'nil value' transfer deal
A Northern Ireland town's iconic seafront courthouse is set to be brought back into use for the community.
The 150-year-old Bangor Courthouse in Co Down has been empty since it was decommissioned in 2013.
But now the Department of Justice has transferred the old Victorian building into the hands of the Bangor-based Open House Festival charity. It is the first 'nil value' transfer of a property of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Initially, Open House Festival will take up an 18-month lease, with full ownership transferred once further funding, a viable business plan and necessary planning approvals are in place at the end of that period.
The group will now spend the next 18 months working with planners and developers to finalise the renovation, with the overall cost of the project put at around £500,000.
With the transfer of the building now confirmed, Open House Festival director Kieran Gilmore said: "This is a huge step for the festival and a really exciting opportunity for Bangor.
"If we can restore and re-purpose this important Victorian listed-building on Bangor seafront, then we can show how arts and culture can lead the way in putting the heart and soul back into our town centre."
Open House Festival director Alison Gordon added: "Bangor was always known as the Brighton of Northern Ireland and we're delighted to be a part of restoring the seafront to the vibrant and viable place it is remembered as."